Former Celtic star disagrees with Neil Lennon as he gives verdict on two 'red card' challenges against Rangers

Former Celtic star Stiliyan Petrov disagrees with the verdict of manager Neil Lennon that Nir Bitton should not have been sent off in the Old Firm derby clash at Ibrox.

Nir Bitton reacts to referee Bobby Madden's decision after being sent off at Ibrox for taking down Alfredo Morelos. Picture: SNS
Nir Bitton reacts to referee Bobby Madden's decision after being sent off at Ibrox for taking down Alfredo Morelos. Picture: SNS

The Israeli was shown a straight red card for hauling down Alfredo Morelos, which referee Bobby Madden deemed to be a case of denying a clear and obvious goalscoring opportunity.

It was a hugely influential moment in the match as Celtic, who had been dominating proceedings up until then, eventually went on to lose thanks to a Callum McGregor own goal.

Celtic: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Celtic: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Lennon, when asked about the incident on Sky Sports after the match, insisted it should not have been a red, calling it a “poor” refereeing decision.

Ex-Parkhead favourite Petrov, however, couldn’t agree with the assessment of his former team-mate.

He said on the live broadcast: “I would love to back up Neil, but I just can’t. He says it’s just a foul, but why does he feel the need to concede this foul? It’s because [Morelos] will be one-on-one with the goalkeeper. It’s a clear opportunity.

"It’s a red card. Bitton should have had better position, but I would also question Ajer’s position. He should be closer. If he is then Bitton doesn’t have to make the foul.

"Rangers tried to be more direct in the second half and that was the first ball that actually caused Celtic problems, and it was the turning point of the game.

There was another talking point in the second period where substitute Shane Duffy could also have been sent off for a heavy challenge on Ryan Kent as he looked to deliberately halt the Rangers attacker on the counter-attack.

Petrov agreed with fellow Sky Sports pundits Kris Boyd and James McFadden that the Irish international was fortunate not to put his team down to nine men.

He said: "It’s frustration. He’s coming on to try and help them get back in the game and he’s chasing back. I think he’s very lucky not to get a red card. It’s a really poor challenge.”

The result leaves Celtic trailing rivals Rangers by 19 points in the title race, albeit with three games in hand.

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