Celtic 2-0 Rangers: Rangers request VAR audio around penalty controversy

Rangers were not given a first-half penalty for a handball by Alistair Johnston; it was not until the second half when it was revealed it was not given due to an offside on Abdallah Sima in the build-up; Rangers will ask the Scottish FA for a copy of the VAR audio

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Should Rangers have been awarded a penalty just before half-time when Celtic defender Alistair Johnston appeared to handle the ball?

Philippe Clement was adamant that Rangers should have been given a first-half penalty for a handball in their 2-1 Old Firm loss at Celtic, as he branded some decisions made by referee Nick Walsh and the officiating team as “very strange”.

VAR took a look at a potential handball by Celtic defender Alistair Johnston while under pressure from Abdallah Sima and gave no penalty.

It later transpired that Sima was offside in the build-up but a goal kick was still given by referee Walsh.

Rangers will ask the Scottish FA for a copy of the VAR audio surrounding their claim for a penalty. It is understood officials didn’t consider Johnston’s hand or arm movement to the ball to be unnatural anyway, though even if they had, this would be irrelevant due to the offside.

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A Rangers spokesperson said: “Rangers have asked the Scottish FA to make the VAR audio available to the club to understand why no penalty was awarded despite a clear hand ball by Celtic’s Alastair Johnston.

“The club is keen to understand the process that led to that decision being made as it was not made public at the time, nor communicated to our team. Rangers remains advocates of VAR, but there must be significantly more transparency for it to be successful in Scotland.”

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Rangers manager Philippe Clement says he was pleased with his side’s performance despite defeat to Celtic, but questions a number of decisions from the officials

Clement also had issue with Celtic’s Paulo Bernardo not being sent off for a late tackle on Conor Goldson while already on a booking, with defender Johnston also avoiding a second yellow card despite making contact with Sima’s face.

Those two decisions were even more significant given Leon Balogun was later sent off for a professional foul on Daizen Maeda.

“We played 15 minutes with 10 players, and that was the right decision, it’s a red card. We didn’t do that action well,” Clement told Sky Sports.

“But I have other questions also about, why not a handball in the first half to get a penalty? It’s a clear handball.

“Why not a second yellow card for some tackles and then at the end of the game a lot of yellow cards? A few strange decisions in that way.”

Image: Bernardo was not given a second yellow for this challenge on Goldson

When Clement was told by Sky Sports reporter Luke Shanley that there was an offside in the build-up to the Johnston ‘handball’ incident, the Rangers manager responded: “The decision was not made about an offside, the decision of no penalty was made about the handball.

“That was the decision. So that was a strange decision for me.”

He later added: “We were unlucky with the two [Celtic] goals and if we get this penalty, it’s a 2-2 with the quality of the game. It’s another story in perception.”

Lennon: The whole situation is a farce

Speaking on Sky Sports punditry duty, Neil Lennon described the whole incident as a “farce” and said he understood why Clement was frustrated due to not having a full explanation of the process to not award the penalty.

At half-time, Lennon was adamant that Rangers should have been given a spot kick for the Johnston handball – but it was not until after the interval when the offside decision was clarified.

“It’s a farce, for me. It really is,” said Lennon. “If they [the VAR team] said it was offside, then let us know.

“I can understand Clement being really frustrated by that and not being given a full explanation. We know now, or we knew in the second half, but it’s ridiculous for a game of this magnitude.

“It’s even at the point where it may not have been given a handball if it was onside. That’s another bag of worms to talk about.

“If it was offside, then it’s a free-kick to Celtic. But they gave a goal kick. So again, it’s bizarre.”

Meanwhile, Sky Sports’ Kris Boyd shared Lennon’s view about the handball incident – but added that Clement was right to question why Bernardo was not sent off for a late lunge on Goldson.

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“He’s at the side of the pitch, we didn’t know what was going on, our own commentary team didn’t know what was going on,” said Boyd about the handball. “It’s just got to be clear, we want everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.

“But he has got a point about some other tackles. The Bernardo one when he was into Goldson was a yellow card.

“VAR can’t look at it as it’s not a straight red card, but it was a second yellow that could have led to a red card. You have to do your job.”

Speaking to Sky Sports, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers admitted that he took Bernardo off shortly after the Goldson tackle as he felt he was about to get sent off, but Lennon played down the incident after the game.

“When you’re on a yellow card, you have to be so careful,” said Lennon. “Whether it would have impacted the game or not, as you’re playing 10 vs 10, I don’t know. But there are some contentious decisions as always.”

Sourse: skysports.com

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