Ross County manager Malky Mackay hit out at the standard of VAR in Scotland after being left infuriated by the penalty award that allowed Celtic to break the deadlock in their 2-0 Premiership win at the Global Energy Stadium.
Referee Willie Collum was invited to the pitchside monitor in first-half stoppage time and deemed that a spot-kick should be given after the ball struck the arm of County defender Alex Iacovitti as he tried to challenge Cameron Carter-Vickers for a cross into the box.
Jota duly converted the penalty before substitute Alexandro Bernabei sealed a 2-0 win for the Hoops in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Mackay, who was booked for dissent in the second half, was incensed that VAR “intervened” in the first place and then that Collum decided so hastily to give the cinch Premiership leaders the spot-kick upon viewing the incident.
“I’ve looked at the penalty about half-a-dozen times and I cannot believe that’s where the bar is set with VAR right now,” he said.
“Two players go for the ball bravely with their heads.
“Carter-Vickers and Alex Iacovitti both throw their heads at it and the ball goes between their heads and it hits Alex on the back of his arm.
“It’s ball to arm.
“Someone is going to have to explain to me how you jump for a ball in the box and have your arms at your side. Physically, it can’t happen.
“I’m looking at where the bar is set in England and where it’s set in Scotland and right now we’re not where they are.
“Clubs are paying for this. I look at standards (of decisions being made by VAR) right now and there are mistakes all over the place.
“It’s going to cost jobs, it’s going to cost clubs promotion, relegation, Europe.
“I was really disappointed with that, intervening like that.”
Mackay – who was “really proud” of his team’s performance – had already started to make his way up the tunnel for his half-time team-talk before the penalty award.
“The fourth official had told me we were now over time so I was standing at the back of the tunnel,” he said.
“I could see the referee start to debate and discuss and then come over to the monitor. I thought, ‘surely not’.
“I was surprised at how quickly he made the decision because you will see pundits debate it all week.
“It’s incredible that’s where the VAR is set right now.
“I spoke to him at half-time and he said it was the laws of the game and he has to give a penalty.”
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou said he was already in the dressing room so did not see the penalty incident. The Hoops boss was pleased at the way his side made it 15 wins on the spin in all competitions despite not being at their best.
“We were wasteful in front of goal and that keeps them in the game,” he said. “It’s then edgier than it should be, but overall the lads handled it OK.
“With the conditions the way they were, it wasn’t going to be a free-flowing game, but aside from the football, there was steel and character in the group to get the job done.”
Postecoglou – who expects Greg Taylor to be fit to face Rangers on Saturday despite being forced off with a dead leg – praised Japanese midfielder Tomoki Iwata for his performance in his first start since joining in January.
“He was great,” said the manager. “He was the one who looked most sure-footed in terms of the pitch and the handling of the ball. He really helped us considering it was his first 90 minutes after three months.”
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