Rangers boss Philippe Clement slams SFA over VAR controversy in Celtic defeat

Rangers feel aggrieved by the non-award of a penalty for a handball by Celtic’s Alistair Johnston

Rangers manager Philippe Clement has hit out at the Scottish Football Association (SFA) for their handling of the VAR controversy that marred his side’s 2-1 loss to Celtic in the Old Firm derby on Saturday. The Belgian boss claimed that the SFA had failed to provide a clear explanation of why referee Nick Walsh did not award a penalty to Rangers for a handball by Celtic defender Alistair Johnston in the first half.

Clement said that he had requested the audio of the conversation between Walsh and VAR official Willie Collum, but had not received it yet. He also questioned why the SFA had sent a still image of Abdallah Sima’s offside position in the build-up to the incident to Sky Sports during the second half, implying that it was an attempt to justify the decision.

“We are very disappointed with the way the SFA has handled this situation,” Clement said in his post-match press conference. “We have asked for the audio of the VAR communication, but we have not got it yet. We want to know what was said and why the penalty was not given.”

“We also don’t understand why they sent a picture of Sima being offside to Sky Sports. What was the purpose of that? Was it to influence the public opinion? Was it to cover up their mistake?”

Clement added that he had no problem with the use of VAR in general, but he felt that it had to be transparent and consistent. He said that he had seen similar incidents being given as penalties in other leagues and competitions, and he wondered why the Scottish Premiership was different.

Rangers boss Philippe Clement slams SFA over VAR

“I have nothing against VAR, I think it can help the game if it is used properly,” he said. “But it has to be clear and fair for everyone. I have seen many handballs like that being given as penalties in England, in Europe, in the World Cup. Why is it different here?”

Celtic take advantage of Rangers’ frustration to extend their lead at the top

Celtic took full advantage of Rangers’ frustration to extend their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to eight points, although they have played two games more than their rivals. The Hoops scored two superb goals through Paulo Bernardo and Kyogo Furuhashi, while Rangers could only reply with a late strike by James Tavernier.

Bernardo opened the scoring in the 25th minute with a powerful volley from a corner by Luis Palma, while Kyogo doubled the lead in the 47th minute with a curling shot from the edge of the box after a clever pass by Matt O’Riley. Tavernier gave Rangers some hope in the 85th minute with a free-kick that went through the wall, but it was too little, too late for the visitors.

Celtic also had the better chances throughout the game, with Kyogo hitting the post in the first half and Palma forcing a good save from Robby McCrorie in the second half. Rangers, on the other hand, struggled to create clear-cut opportunities, with Fabio Silva and Todd Cantwell having quiet games up front.

The only sour note for Celtic was the injury to Bernardo, who had to be substituted in the 36th minute after a clash with Leon Balogun. The Portuguese midfielder, who is on loan from Benfica, was taken to hospital for further checks on his ankle.

Rangers’ title hopes suffer a blow as they lose their first game under Clement

Rangers’ title hopes suffered a blow as they lost their first game under Clement, who had replaced Michael Beale as the manager in November. The Light Blues had won seven and drawn one of their previous eight games under the former Club Brugge boss, but they came unstuck against their arch-rivals at Celtic Park.

Rangers also had to play the final minutes with ten men, as Balogun was sent off for a second yellow card after a foul on Kyogo in the 88th minute. The Nigerian defender had already been booked for the challenge that injured Bernardo in the first half.

The defeat means that Rangers have only won one of their last ten league games against Celtic, and they have not beaten them at Celtic Park since 2010. They also have not been awarded a penalty against Celtic in the league since 2019, a run of 12 games.

Rangers will have to regroup quickly, as they face Kilmarnock at Ibrox on Wednesday, while Celtic will travel to Dundee United on the same day. The next Old Firm derby will be on March 11, at Ibrox, and it could be a decisive one for the title race.

By Zane Lee

Zane Lee is a talented content writer at Cumbernauld Media, specializing in the finance and business niche. With a keen interest in the ever-evolving world of finance, Zane brings a unique perspective to his articles and blog posts. His in-depth knowledge and research skills allow him to provide valuable insights and analysis on various financial topics. Zane's passion for writing and his ability to simplify complex concepts make his content engaging and accessible to readers of all levels.

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