Motherwell manager Mark McGhee claimed Carl McHugh’s red card against Hearts should not even have been a foul as he blamed the “ridiculous decision” for costing his side the game.
Hearts won 3-0 at Fir Park after McHugh was sent off by Andrew Dallas for a challenge on Don Cowie following a goalless and largely uneventful 53 minutes.
The Irish midfielder won the ball as he slid in head-on and also caught Cowie as he followed through, leaving the midfielder needing treatment.
Dallas showed a straight red card and also handed out six yellows, including a booking for Hearts midfielder Malaury Martin, who was only guilty of being in the vicinity as Lionel Ainsworth inadvertently tripped team-mate Louis Moult.
It was the third red card against Motherwell players in four Ladbrokes Premiership games and it proved costly. Alex Tziolis opened the scoring with a deflected strike six minutes later and Esmael Goncalves netted twice in the final six minutes, the first on the counter-attack as Motherwell chased an equaliser.
Motherwell failed to overturn Scott McDonald’s red card against Rangers during the week but McGhee insisted they would “100 per cent” appeal against the latest dismissal.
The Scotland assistant manager came into his post-match media conference and, without being asked a question, said: “First of all, I have just watched it over and over again. Never in a million years is it a sending-off. It’s a joke.
“It’s a great tackle, clean won the ball. What can I say? It’s just a ridiculous decision.
“I think it’s less of a sending-off than Scott McDonald’s.
“Then he books Ben Heneghan for a fantastic tackle in the middle of the park. Clean as a whistle. What’s it all about?”
When asked if he had spoken to Dallas about the decision, McGhee said: “What can you say? They don’t speak to you, it’s just impossible.
“It’s cost us the game,” he added. “Even at 1-0 down with 10 men, we are still the best team until we go 2-0 down.
“We have people running out of legs, young Zak (Jules) at left-back cost us the third goal, but the score doesn’t reflect the game for me. There was a lot right about us and somehow we have conspired to have the game taken from us.
“Hugely frustrating, people looking from the outside see 3-0 and think Hearts have beaten us well and it’s not the case at all.”
Hearts boss Ian Cathro gave credit to Motherwell for remaining a threat with 10 men but was more than happy with his side’s performance, which resulted in first goals for the club for classy Greece midfielder Tziolis and Goncalves.
Cathro said of the Portuguese forward: “He’s a different profile of striker, one with energy, aggression, direct attacking, will want to run behind, can be powerful with the ball.
“That’s something we want to make sure we have got access to, whether we play with a striker or two strikers. It was important that we added that player.
“Alex has done well. He knows how to position himself during the game, he knows how to be the free player to take passes, he knows how to manage the middle of the pitch.”