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Neil Lennon questions lack of VAR as Celtic denied 'clear penalty' in Rennes draw

Rennes 1 Celtic 1

Moving on: Scott Brown goes on the attack for Celtic in France
Moving on: Scott Brown goes on the attack for Celtic in France

By Gavin McCafferty

Celtic manager Neil Lennon felt his side were well worthy of their point against Rennes - and could have had three if VAR was available in the Europa League.

Ulsterman Lennon was surprised video assistance was unavailable, unlike the Champions League, and felt his side were denied a clear penalty in a game of two spot-kicks.

And the Hoops boss was left baffled by Spanish referee Jose Maria Sanchez's decision to send Vakoun Bayo off in the final minute after initially playing on.

Celtic held on through five minutes of stoppage time for a 1-1 draw after a confident display in their group opener in France.

Rash defending from Kristoffer Ajer handed Rennes a 37th-minute lead from the spot before Ryan Christie saw his pleas for a 51st-minute penalty fall on deaf ears after he was brought down in the box.

However, Celtic did get a penalty eight minutes later for a foul on James Forrest and Christie converted to continue his side's unbeaten away record in Europe this season.

"I thought we were the better team," Lennon said. "I thought we were the better team first half and I was disappointed with the players coming in a goal down because we had really good control of the game.

"I thought we lacked a bit of composure first half because we worked the ball in good areas and we just rushed things a bit.

"I have no complaints about the penalty but I asked for a reaction at half-time and we certainly got that. We thoroughly merited a point if not the three points.

"It's a great start for us but you always want more. After we scored we sort of came off it a little bit but saw the game out quite comfortably. I'm not happy with the sending-off and we should have had another penalty, a clear penalty on Ryan Christie.

"However, I have got to be satisfied to come away from home and play very strongly against a good side. It speaks volumes for the character and quality of the team."

Bayo was booked for an aerial challenge before clipping home goalkeeper Edouard Mendy at a loose ball moments later.

Referee Sanchez played on, but Mendy rolled about holding his face and Bayo got another card after a huge delay.

"It looked to me like the referee was waving play on," Lennon said. "I don't know if he was looking back at the goalkeeper, who was holding his head when there was no contact with his face at all. If anything it was minimal across his midriff. The referee changed his mind. So I think Bayo can feel very hard done by, by that decision.

"We are playing under the Uefa banner and I'm surprised we don't have (VAR) for this competition because if we had it, we would clearly have had another penalty."

Ajer gifted the hosts a penalty. The Norwegian panicked as M'Biaye Niang turned him and headed for the by-line, and brought the striker down. Niang waited for Fraser Forster to make his move and picked the opposite side.

Celtic should have had their own penalty after Joris Gnagnon stood on Christie's foot just inside the box after being beaten to Odsonne Edouard's knockdown.

But Lennon's side only had eight minutes to wait. Christie picked up a loose pass and fed Forrest, who made the most of Damien da Silva's wild swing to go down. Christie kept his composure to find the corner.

Bayo replaced Edouard in the 84th minute and was booked for an aerial challenge which resulted in Da Silva being carried off on a stretcher in the 89th.

The striker was sent off moments later in controversial circumstances after competing for a loose ball when Olivier Ntcham's shot was spilled.

He appeared to clip Mendy's hand, and the referee waved play on, but the goalkeeper rolled about clutching his face and, after a huge delay, another yellow card was produced.

Belfast Telegraph


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