Hearts manager Robbie Neilson claimed one of his players would need to be decapitated before getting a red card in their favour at Celtic Park as he branded a decision not to re-examine an Alexandro Bernabei challenge a “shambles”.
Video assistant referee Nick Walsh checked Bernabei’s tackle on Nathaniel Atkinson while the Hearts player received treatment but referee Alan Muir was not asked to review the footage and the Argentinian escaped without any punishment.
The scores were level at the time and Celtic went on to win 3-1 as goals from Daizen Maeda, Kyogo Furuhashi and Sead Haksabanovic completed the cinch Premiership leaders’ comeback following Josh Ginnelly’s early opener.
On the first-half incident involving Bernabei, Neilson said: “To be honest I thought it was a shambles, the whole thing. First time I have ever seen no yellow card but it goes to a VAR for serious foul play.
“I’m sure Alan will look at it and firstly be disappointed with his own decision but secondly that he wasn’t asked to go and look at the VAR screen because I think, if he goes and sees it, it’s maybe a different outcome.
“But usually you come to Parkhead and need a decapitation before you get a red card against them. It wasn’t to be. It was nearly a leg off but if the head came off we might have got it.
“For periods of the game I thought we played really well. Our shape was great, we pressed really well but the most pleasing thing was we passed the ball very well.
“There were passages of play where we popped the ball through them and very rarely do you see that at Parkhead.”
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou admitted his side were not at their best in his 100th game in charge.
Postecoglou, who made four changes to his starting line-up, said: “We weren’t great, we weren’t as fluent as we have been.
“I have got to make an allowance for the fact that I made a number of changes which always kinds of disrupts things, particularly putting in guys who haven’t played for quite a while. But we had to do that.
“We didn’t really get into a rhythm we like to get into, and forced things early in the game, but the lads showed strong mentality and the best part was probably the quality of our goals.”
Furuhashi put Celtic ahead on the hour mark with his 20th league goal of the season and 25th in all competitions.
“We didn’t use him well at all. He makes fantastic runs and sometimes I get really frustrated that after 18-20 months we still don’t see them,” Postecoglou said.
“The beauty of it is he doesn’t get frustrated, he just keeps making those runs. He was an outstanding contributor again.”
Both Maeda and Ginnelly went off in the first half while the Hearts forward’s replacement, Yutaro Oda, also limped off.
On Maeda, Postecoglou said: “He got a knock on the knee and it’s a bit sore. I don’t think it’s anything serious but it’s another short turnaround to Saturday so we will have to see how he is.”
Neilson added: “Josh will be fine. He wanted to play on but I took him off as a precaution. It was just a tightness, he will be fine for Saturday.
“If it was a cup final Shanks (Lawrence Shankland) would have played, we felt another couple of days’ rest he should be 100 per cent for the weekend. The only one that will be missing is probably Oda because he got a kick on the foot. He has gone for a scan.”