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Celtic Rangers meltdown sees Lennon lock horns with McCoist

Celtic 1 Rangers 0

Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist were pulled apart as the red mist descended during yesterday's Scottish Cup clash.

And Celtic's Alan Thompson blamed El-Hadji Diouf for the mayhem that engulfed the fifth-round replay at Parkhead.

Mark Wilson's goal just after the break was enough to beat the visitors in an ill-tempered game which saw the Ibrox men end up with nine men — and then have Diouf dismissed after the final whistle.

Rangers midfielder Steven Whittaker was sent off by referee Calum Murray in the 35th minute after picking up his second booking for a foul on Emilio Izaguirre.

A spat ensued in the tunnel as the players went in at the interval and then, in second-half injury-time, Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra was sent off after picking up his second caution.

Seconds after the final whistle, as Hoops manager Neil Lennon and Rangers assistant Ally McCoist had to be pulled apart by the technical areas, the unruly Diouf, booked earlier, was booked and red-carded for approaching Murray.

However, Thompson claimed the night of mayhem could be traced back to when Diouf and Lennon clashed on the touchline following the dismissal of Whittaker.

He said: “Our physio had gone on when Steven Whittaker went off and Diouf shouldered him.

“Neil saw it and it has gone on from there. That instigated everything.

“I am not blaming anyone, I am just telling you what Neil saw.

“I didn't see anything at half-time.

“But in terms of Neil and Ally at the end something was said that wasn't taken the right way.

“They have players who play on the edge but our players did as we asked from them.

“We are delighted with the performance, discipline-wise and football-wise.

“We picked up three yellow cards out of everything that went on.

“We asked the players to remain disciplined and they did what we asked. Any team that gets three red cards in one game — I think that will be looked at.

“I hope it doesn't take too much away from the way we tried to play.

“We knew they would come tonight and make it difficult but we kept trying to play the right way.

“We are over the moon to be through.”

Rangers boss Walter Smith questioned the decisions of Murray as Celtic progressed to the Scottish Cup quarter-final.

Smith said: “With Steven Whittaker, I wouldn't have argued with the second yellow card but the first one, I felt he was fouled prior to the challenge, so therefore it was harsh.

“Madjid Bougherra's one, he quite clearly wins the ball. I think that one was a complete over-reaction from the referee in the circumstances. As far as the last one is concerned, I don't know what happened. That was after the game was finished.”

The Hoops recently triumphed over their Old Firm rivals at the same venue with a 3-0 win in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Smith added: “We never really got going in terms of our overall possession and threat but looked as though we weren't going to lose goals in the manner in which we did a couple of weeks ago.

“Overall, we turned in a better performance than we did recently.”

Until recently, Wilson had failed to find the back of the net for Celtic but he has now netted three goals in six games.

He said: “It's unbelievable and it's about time. It's something I've always wanted to do for Celtic and then three come along and none more important than that in my opinion.

“I caught it first time pretty well and it was a great clearance off the line. I was surprised it came back to me and I didn't catch it at all but I'm happy it bounced over the goalie and in.”

He added: “We started the game very well and took the game to Rangers. When they got the man (Whittaker) sent off it made it a bit easier for us and I was glad to get the goal and get through to the next round.”

Celtic defender Daniel Majstorovic said: “It was a high level out there. We were really patient and won the game. We didn't give them anything.”

Wilson drove in three minutes after the break after his first shot was cleared off the line by the head of Sasa Papac — who was stretchered off.

In the 63rd minute Samaras crashed a low drive off keeper Allan McGregor's post. But the real talking points were the dismissals.

Belfast Telegraph


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