Celtic 2-1 Rangers: Was John Lundstram’s Old Firm red card for challenge on Alistair Johnston deserved?

Celtic beat Rangers 2-1 to move to verge of title; Matt O’Riley opened the scoring with John Lundstram’s own goal doubling the lead; Cyriel Dessers replied before Lundstram was red carded; O’Riley then missed a penalty; Celtic are six points ahead with two games left

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John Lundstram is sent off leaving Rangers with 10 players in the game against Celtic

A moment of madness saw John Lundstram sent off just before half-time in Saturday’s Old Firm for a late challenge on Alistair Johnston, but was the red card deserved? Not all of our pundits agreed…

It was an afternoon to forget Lundstram, who scored an own goal and was sent off as Celtic took a massive step towards retaining the cinch Premiership title with a 2-1 victory in a Parkhead thriller.

Celtic moved six points and seven goals clear of their city rivals with two matches left and set themselves up to clinch the first silverware of Brendan Rodgers’ second spell in charge at Kilmarnock on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports, if Rangers do not drop points at home to Dundee 24 hours earlier, also live on Sky Sports.

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A flurry of activity in the final 10 minutes of the first half saw Matt O’Riley and Lundstram put Celtic two up, Cyriel Dessers pull a goal back, and the Gers midfielder receive a red card for a foul on Johnston.

Lundstram went overboard with an attempt to intercept a pass, sliding in with force from a long way off and catching the full-back on the ankle. Referee Willie Collum showed a yellow card but amended the punishment after being called to his VAR monitor by Steven McLean.

Image: Lundstram looks dejected after he is sent off

Was VAR right to intervene, and was the referee correct to upgrade his original caution to a sending off? Sky Sports pundits Chris Sutton, Kris Boyd, Neil Lennon and James McFadden thought the right decision was reached, but Kenny Miller argued Lundstram’s corner.

‘Lundstram aware of how costly red card was’

Rangers boss Philippe Clement on how John Lundstram reacted to his red card in the dressing room:

“It is, of course, more difficult if you have to play with 10 and that is a thing I never want to see-Lunny is the first one that knows that, the group knows.

“I don’t want to see that type of tackle anywhere on the pitch. There it was totally unnecessary.

“It was one split-second of wrong decision-making by a player but I don’t forget what he’s been doing for the team in the last couple of months and all year for Rangers. He’s the first one who knows he has made a mistake. There was totally no reason for it.”

“He didn’t speak. Of course he is disappointed. He will feel like that.

“I also had moments like that in my career where you take a red card and it is not necessary.

“He is experienced. He knows and I’m sure in the next couple of weeks he still wants to fight for this team.

“Maybe he wanted to fight a little bit too much and take the team with him.”

VOTE: Was Lundstram’s red card deserved?

Are you with Miller or the other pundits? Who do you think is right?

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Here are their views…

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Miller: We are trying to eradicate contact out of the game

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All of our pundits thought John Lundstram deserved a red for his rash challenge apart from Kenny Miller, who continued to argue his corner! 

Sky Sports’ Kenny Miller:

“I understand why it is a red card. In this day and age when you slow things down and put the point of contact [on screen] – Lundstram’s foot is planted against the side of Johnston’s leg.

“What I would say is that had VAR not been there, no one is moaning that’s not a red card. It was a yellow card, there’s no doubt about it.

“When you see it in real time, it’s fast, but it’s a yellow card for me. VAR comes in, intervenes and when it is slowed down, it’s always going to be a red card when he gets called to the monitor.

“Had there been no VAR, nobody would have asked for that to be a red card.

“He’s not out of control. He’s running fast to get to the ball. You need to run fast and he’s allowed to slide in. He meant to go and win the ball. We are trying to eradicate every bit of contact out of the game. Any contact, any tackle that is made, it needs to be a yellow card or a red card.”

McFadden: Even in real time you can see the challenge is high

Sky Sports’ James McFadden:

“I know we are talking about the point of contact and slowing it down, but when you see it in real time he catches him above the ankle.

“He’s out of control and endangering an opponent. He’s not allowed to put his studs above his ankle.

“If VAR is not there, I think we are saying you need VAR to try and stamp out those sorts of challenges out of the game.

“You could make an argument if he got some of the ball and then the man, but he doesn’t get any of the ball. He takes the man out above the ankle.”

Lennon: That’s what VAR is there for

Former Celtic player and manager Neil Lennon on Sky Sports:

“VAR is in the game. He’s reckless and in these games it’s a fine line.

“I understand what he’s trying to do. He’s going in and trying to leave one on Johnston, but Lundstram has got it wrong.

“He’s late, he’s high and he could have done a lot more damage.

“It’s the correct call. It’s a red card. We’ve got VAR now to try and stamp out these challenges.

“When I first saw it, I thought it’s good. He’s left a mark on Johnston. But I saw it again slowed down and the referee had no option but to send him off.”

Boyd: Referee had no option

Image: John Lundstram reacts after his own goal gives Celtic a two-goal lead against Rangers

Sky Sports’ Kris Boyd:

“If it is one of your team-mates making that tackle, you’d be unhappy.

“For Rangers, they’ve got themselves back into the game. They just need to get in at half time, re-group and make a couple of tactical changes.

“When you go to ground like Lundstram did, the referee has got no option but to send him off.”

Sutton: A red card in the 1970s

Sky Sports’ Chris Sutton:

“Lundstram did for Rangers, not just the own goal but the reckless nature of his challenge and then essentially that was their title hopes over.

“It’s a red card in the 1970s.

“It was a ridiculous challenge. Lundstram was out of control and reckless.”

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