The Battle of Tynecastle: Hearts 3 – 4 Celtic: We NeVAR Stop

That was action packed that one. Where to begin? After James Forrest grabbed his 101 goal for Celtic (yes that’s right, 101!), we never really took hold of the match and allowed Hearts a way into it, courtesy of an intervention by the much maligned VAR technology. Although in my opinion it was a stonewall penalty anyway and should have been called as such by the referee Nick Walsh.

Referee Nick Walsh signals a penalty to Hearts after consulting var during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh. Picture Neil Hanna / Sportimage

I found the general rhythm of our play at times today to be disjointed and unharmonious. There is a definite and categorical void between our defence and attack which has a big Callum McGregor shape hole to it. Matt O’Riley has stepped in and performed admirably but cannot handle the role himself whilst there is very little pace beside him in Aaron Mooy as one of a three.

Mooy does keep the ball well and it is his strongest suit undeniably, but even he was very wayward today as we struggled time and time again to get control of the midfield area. Hatate can dwell on the ball too long for me and it is only a matter of when and not if we get punished for this. After his display against Motherwell mid-week, I found his overall performance this afternoon to be underwhelming if honest.

Heart of Midlothian v Celtic – cinch Premiership – Tynecastle Park Celtic s Greg Taylor celebrates scoring the winning goal  at Tynecastle. Saturday October 22, 2022 Photo JaneBarlow

I think today, most importantly it was a reminder that Greg Taylor is our first choice left-back, as Bernabei was all over the place throughout his allocated minutes at Tynecastle. However, I don’t think this was helped by big Moritz Jenz who was extremely slack in possession and put Alexandro in soappy bubble on more than one occasion. Hopefully Carl Starfelt isn’t as long away from returning as is expected and our strongest defensive partnership is reinstated.

James Forrest scores the 1st goal at Tynecastle. Photo Neil Hanna / Sportimage

The chopping off of the Ralston goal did defy logic when I looked at it, however, when looking closely again at it, Gaikoumakis does pull Robert Snodgrass’ shirt in the build-up, so if it was incorrect to stop play for the foul on Kiomourtzoglou, I would have been calling for the shirt pull had the shoe been on the other foot. So for me, Ralston decision isn’t really a complaint as we would have got away with one had it stood.

On the contrary, that’s not to say the decision making in the VAR room was not still suspect to closer scrutiny. That Michael Smith handball was utterly incomprehensible for me. Even big Hartson said it in the studio that it was unreal; Smith’s face and body language said it all and he knew he had gotten away with a major one!

I don’t see how either penalty call/decision should have needed to even go to VAR. Both were shouts the man with the whistle should have the ability and nous to decipher as fouls. Heaven knows why VAR would even be needed with these incidents this afternoon as far as I’m concerned. I noticed on Twitter some folk clutching at straws with the CCV one, saying he gets a touch on the ball. I can’t see how that’s not a penalty. Simple as that. The Hearts player gets there first and then his foot is kicked by Cameron. Non-starter for me.

The final offside by Liel Abada was touch-and-go also and Sky Sports never even covered this or showed the replay. They showed Shankland’s when they awarded a goal for Hearts, so why not show the line for Liel’s? Very odd behaviour indeed. And while we’re at it, what’s with all the added on time in games when Celtic are defending a slender lead, then when we’re cruising the ref can’t wait to blow the whistle?

But the win was important and will have been a hammer-blow for our main rival for the title this year. They would have been given a major boost if they would have ended up level on points, or worse, if we had come away with anything other than the full three points. It was hard-fought yet again, no thanks to VAR and the men charged with operating it. Although we got there in the end and got over the line.

Daizen Maeda left celebrates with Celtic s Reo Hatate after Celtic’s third goal of the game during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle on Saturday October 22, 2022. Photo Jane Barlow

Daizen Maeda and Greg Taylor both deserve a special mention as this particular couple have received more than a fair share of the flak when we have performed poorly. The guys can hold there heads up high as they saved our afternoon in the capital city of Scotland this wet afternoon. On to Shakhtar Donetsk at Parkhead on Wednesday now, where we will try and preserve our reputation at Champions League level this year…

Hail Hail

Paul Gillespie

About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

1 Comment

  1. I agree with you Paul both Hearts penalties are correct I’ve no problems there they were stonewall spot kicks but the handball was too and for Walsh not to give that and VAR backing him up is a scandalous decision. Abada’s goal was tight but I thought he was onside, the angle Sky freezeframed he looks off but from when the ball was played he’s onside. I recorded the game and the more I look at it the more he seems onside. The club has to start calling out these contentious decisions when we’re winning because if it’s in a game where we drop points then we’ll be seen as sore losers. Keevins took a Celtic supporter to task last week saying we’d won 6-1 and not to complain about referees but he’s missing the point as the score shouldn’t preclude the fact that the laws of the game were broken by a referee whether we won or lost, it’s blatant cheating and corruption. I know Keevins is an idiot but his attitude could set a precedent where you’re not allowed to complain about, at the very least, rule breaking by a referee if you’ve won. It’s why the game in this country is so parochial and why we’re a laughing stock to the rest of the world that we allow racism and bigotry to continue in the twenty first century. I’m no conspiracy theorist but when you see blatant decisions going against us like yesterday’s handball and Abada’s goal you start to wonder.