Wednesday 21 February 2018

Celtic left frustrated by referee's 'bad day at work'

Inter Milan 1 Celtic 0 (Inter Milan win 4-3 on agg)

Celtic's Virgil van Dijk leaves the pitch after being sent off in the San Siro
Celtic's Virgil van Dijk leaves the pitch after being sent off in the San Siro
Inter Milan's Fredy Guarin celebrates after scoring against Celtic
Fredy Guarin scores for Inter Milan
Celtic's goalkeeper Gordon Craig makes a save during their Europa League match against Inter Milan
Celtic's goalkeeper Craig Gordon (C) jumps for the ball

Ronny Esplin

Ronny Deila gave a scathing analysis of referee Ivan Kruzliak's performance following Celtic's Europa League exit at the San Siro.

The Scottish champions were more than holding their own until Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk was sent off in the 36th minute after picking up the second of two yellow cards, the first for a foul on Rodrigo Palacio, the next for tangling with Mauro Icardi.

It was an uphill task for Deila's side thereafter and although they battled hard, Fredy Guarin (pictured) fired in a wonderful strike with two minutes remaining to cap a frustrating evening for the Scottish champions. The Celtic boss described the sending off as "very cheap" and said of the Slovakian official: "He had a bad day at work, that's for sure.

"If we had that bad a day we would have lost 6-0. There were things that happened in the game that ruined it for us.

"It was very even when 11 against 11. We defended well with 10 men but couldn't create anything.

"I feel sorry for the team - but very proud of the boys. There was a very good chance to go through and I think we showed that we have something at this level.

"It was an open match until the sending-off. It made it very difficult for us, we had to work hard in defence. Hopefully, we could have kept it going and got a chance near the end but we didn't make it.

"Inter are a good team so we have to get over it and start focusing on what is going to happen on Sunday."

Deila was referring to the visit of second-placed Aberdeen in a match which will go some way to deciding the destination of the title.

The champions are three points clear of the Dons with a game in hand and they face Dundee United in the Scottish Cup quarter-final and Scottish League Cup final next month as the quest for the domestic treble continues.

Van Dijk's red card was not the only decision to go against Celtic on the night, with midfielder Stuart Armstrong tumbling under a challenge from Davide Santon - on loan from Newcastle United - only for the referee to wave away the visitors' penalty appeals.

Asked if he was fouled, Armstrong said: "Of course, if there wasn't (contact) I would have gone on and taken the shot. There's no need to go down but I felt an arm on my shoulder and it put me off balance. It's just the way it's gone for us, unfortunately. There's a lot of disappointed boys in there feeling hard done by, but it's done now."

The Parkhead club were fined €10,000 by UEFA yesterday for crowd disturbances in the game against Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia last year and they could be in trouble again after two flares were held up in the section housing around 3,000 Hoops fans.

Deila described it as "very disappointing" and said: "We have to get rid of this, this is is nothing to do with football.

"Again the fans were unbelievable, you can hear the fans still singing now, that is important for us but again we have to behave in the right way."

Irish Independent

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