herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

Lennon hopping mad over 'joke red cards

NEIL Lennon was left fuming at having to watch the second half of Celtic's 3-2 Scottish Premier League defeat by Rangers at Ibrox from the media room after being sent to the stand by referee Calum Murray.

The Hoops boss waited at the tunnel at the interval to inform the official he was not happy about his first-half performance.

He complained, in particular, about Hoops defender Cha Du-ri's red card for hauling back Rangers midfielder Lee Wallace at the edge of the Celtic box, with the visitors trailing to a wonderful Sone Aluko goal.

Safety

Lennon was then called into Murray's room where he was ordered to the stand but, due to fears for his safety, the Northern Irishman had to watch the rest of the game on TV with goalkeeping coach Stevie Woods shuttling back and forth to the technical area with instructions.

Lennon watched midfielder Victor Wanyama sent off for a two-footed tackle on Steven Whittaker before goals from substitute Andy Little and Wallace put Rangers 3-0 ahead. In the 87th minute, Rangers defender Carlos Bocanegra was also sent off for a foul on Georgios Samaras, and Scott Brown scored with the resulting penalty before a Thomas Rogne header in injury time reduced the deficit further.

"I would have sat in the directors' box but I was told for my own safety that it wasn't a good idea," said an angry Lennon. "I watched the second half in here (the media room).

"I can't sit in the stand for my own safety, that sums things up in this country. I had Stevie Woods at the door and he was running up and down the tunnel for me.

"I might as well have sat in the house and watched the second half. When you are down to nine men, it is an uphill task.

"This is not the first time we have come to Ibrox and had players sent off for little or nothing. I congratulate Rangers on their win, I haven't got a problem with that, but there are mitigating circumstances in why they won."

Lennon has been asked by the SFA's compliance officer, Vincent Lunny, for an explanation of his criticism of referee Willie Collum following last week's 1-0 Scottish League Cup final defeat against Kilmarnock at Hampden Park.

The former Celtic skipper, whose side failed to get the win needed to clinch the title on the ground of their closest rivals, is likely to have more explaining to do after yesterday.

"The first one is not a sending-off and the second is borderline probably, you can't tackle like that," he said.

Witnesses

"My sending off is a joke. I don't think I deserved to be sent off. I spoke quite quietly and coldly to the referee in the tunnel. I didn't swear and didn't point any fingers. I told him I wasn't happy with his first-half performance.

"I was speaking to the match delegate after the game, and their version of events are different from mine but I've got witnesses to back me up. Alan Thompson (coach) and our PR person was there, a couple of other members of staff and players.

"I have been deprived of doing my job properly when my team needed me. I am very angry about that."

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