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No laughing matter as Celtic cry foul at ref

Astra Giurgiu 1-1 Celtic

By Ronnie Esplin

Leigh Griffiths claims Ukrainian referee Serhiy Boiko laughed at him after disallowing his 'goal' in the 1-1 Europa League draw against Astra Giurgiu in Romania.

The Group D fixture appeared to be in doubt through fog but when it was eventually given the go-ahead midfielder Stefan Johansen's powerful 32nd-minute strike gave the visitors the lead - before it was cancelled out in the 79th minute by Astra substitute William Amorim.

Substitute Griffiths, on for Stefan Scepovic in the second-half, had the ball in the net with minutes remaining, only to see it ruled off for an infringement, before Astra's Vincent Laban was shown a straight red card for a foul on Charlie Mulgrew in injury-time.

Afterwards, a rather irate and bemused Griffiths said: "I've watched it back and everybody in the changing room has watched it back and they said it's not a foul.

"I knew it wasn't a foul, I just stood my ground and the boy jumped into me.

"I read where the ball was going to go and I knew that he'd jumped awkwardly and was going to fall backwards and the ball fell to my feet and I've put it away.

"The ref didn't even blow straight away, he let me go away and celebrate and then brought it back and started laughing about it. It seemed like every foul he gave against us he started laughing.

"It was a poor result in the end for us, we dominated large spells of the game and with the chances we created we should have walked away with the three points," he added.

"It's just one of those things and in our next game we've got to take three points to get through the group stages."

Celtic manager Ronny Deila concurred with Griffiths, saying: "Everybody who has seen it again says it should be a goal.

"Leigh also thinks it was a goal. He said he didn't do anything, so we should have won 2-1.

"Sometimes that happens and we have been lucky some other times. This time it has gone against us."

Celtic, with eight points from four games, will go through if they beat section leaders Salzburg at Celtic Park later in the month.

Salzburg beat Dinamo Zagreb 5-1 to move on to 10 points and the Scottish champions take on the Croatian side away in their final section game in December.

Deila, however, believes qualification should have been confirmed against Astra.

He said: "I think we deserved to win. It was two points lost.

"We were the best team tonight, in the first half we were excellent and scored a nice goal.

"In the second half we controlled it quite well, but they scored a fantastic goal. There was nothing we could do about it - it was a fantastic shot."

He added: "We had enough chances to kill the game and to win it - but in the end we have one point and while I am not happy with that, it is better than nothing."

Belfast Telegraph


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