Celtic boss Neil Lennon publicly bemoaned referee Bobby Madden for sending off Nir Bitton in his side’s 1-0 defeat to Rangers – and the Ibrox faithful are having none of it.
Lennon watched his side largely dominate the first half of the game but they failed to breach the Rangers defence courtesy of a top performance by keeper Allan McGregor.
The game would turn in an instant when Israeli international Bitton hauled down Alfredo Morelos after the Colombian turned him, with Bitton seemingly believing centre-back Kris Ajer was closer.
But replays showed that Morelos was tearing down on goal and the cynical foul undoubtedly prevented a clear 1v1 opportunity.
From there the Gers would control the game – and score from a set-piece – but Lennon instead chose to focus on the referee and not himself.
"We were the better team and the referee has made the wrong decision."
Celtic manager Neil Lennon believed that referee Bobby Madden was wrong to send off Nir Bitton and that the decision changed the game in Rangers' favour. pic.twitter.com/jbXopgrJ5e
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) January 2, 2021
“I’m bitterly disappointed,” said Lennon [Daily Record].
“The referee has made the wrong decision and it’s changed the course of the game.
“It’s not a sending off, it’s a foul, we’ve got Ajer coming in on the cover and Morelos is in a wide position.
“It’s not a clear and obvious goalscoring opportunity – he might get a shot off but he’s certainly not clear through on goal.
📹 Nir Bitton is red carded after the Celtic defender hauls Alfredo Morelos to the ground 🟥pic.twitter.com/u6ErabJNOS
— Daily Record Sport (@Record_Sport) January 2, 2021
“I think he (Madden) was too quick to get the red card out. I’m bitterly disappointed and really proud of the performance.
“I thought we were outstanding before the red card that changed the course of a game we controlled, dominating the play.
“We’ve been done by a pretty poor refereeing decision, I don’t think he was great all day.
“He’s made the decision straight away, Nir’s not done done great, he’s got himself in the wrong body position but he’s not clean through.
“Ajer was on the cover so we had to jig things up and we were really unfortunate with the goal.”
No, Ajer was not on the cover, it was a red card, Neil.
And if we’re being honest, the Celtic boss has got to shoulder some of the blame for playing a central midfielder at centre back against one of the country’s best forwards.
Not only that, but Celtic were lucky they never ended up with only nine men on the field after Shane Duffy recklessly scythed Ryan Kent down in the second half.
Rangers fans saw right through the crocodile tears at full-time and criticised the Celtic manager for his ungracious response in defeat:
Lennon: "It's not a red card, it wasn't a goal scoring opportunity"
Aye, alright Neil 😄 pic.twitter.com/gXsCZ2cCk1
— Bongani_Cartel (@Pena_Cartel) January 2, 2021
— Michael Seafarer (@SeafarerMichael) January 2, 2021
— Craig Wilson (@craigwilson3890) January 2, 2021
— Willy (@wmwscgbm87) January 2, 2021
How were they in total control until the red card, if a Rangers striker was racing away from the last defender?
Same old Lemon, cheated and never defeated. 🥳
— The Railway Bears 🚂🐻💙 (@TheRailwayBears) January 2, 2021
dont mind me, just hear to collect the tears pic.twitter.com/2BLhheBVX9
— cal (@itamcal) January 2, 2021
— Gregor (@Gregorjhh) January 2, 2021
Blatant red card 😂 pic.twitter.com/NtpSjdUx03
— Ryan Kerr (@RyanKerr_1) January 2, 2021
A bit like us being the better in the LC final least season and officials ACTUALLY getting a decision wrong with an offside winner
It’s a clear red card, even Andy Walker and Petrov admitted it. Neil’s a desperate man, he knows the axe is coming
— G (@garryhood1872) January 2, 2021
Always cheated, never defeated… to be fair madden got a few wrong. Penalty for rangers in the first half plus shame Duffy should have walked
— Tom McVey (@tmcvey077) January 2, 2021
I can't believe that he has just stood there and said that wasn't a red card😂😂😂😂
— JT (@bulloobear) January 2, 2021
"It wasn't a sending off, it wasn't a goal scoring opportunity…although he might have got a shot away" 🤣
-Neil Lennon 2021
— Brian Glow (@Brian_Glow) January 2, 2021
We dominated play.
We dominated passing.
We dominated possession.
We dominated shots on goal.
We dominated tactics.
We dominated the game.
Aye but you 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝘁 😆 pic.twitter.com/6jTxir8JqT
— 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐑𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐁𝐞𝐚𝐫 (@BigRangersBear) January 2, 2021
Neil Lennon blaming the referee? I bet no one, absolutely no one, saw that coming.
— Seville Calculator (@SevilleCalculat) January 2, 2021
Lennon going full Trump. Was hoping for this and he just doesn’t disappoint. Perfect way to top it all off.
— Martyn Ramsay (@hobbes_ff) January 2, 2021
Neil Francis Lennon, thank you for this interview.
— Garry Carmody (@GarryCarmody) January 2, 2021
Lennon blaming the ref pic.twitter.com/Fijsvewfzj
— Andrew 🇬🇧 (@Andrew_RFC_1872) January 2, 2021
Lennon isn’t the only one who’s been getting it tight from the Ibrox faithful in the aftermath of Rangers’ 1-0 win over Celtic.
The Parkhead club’s captain Scott Brown has also come in for some criticism for attempting to dive and get Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos sent off in the game.