Spanish referee was Celtic’s biggest opponent in France

Last night I saw a Celtic side that gave me a lot of confidence. The 1-1 result in Rennes could’ve been a victory for Neil Lennon, but a point away from home on matchday one is fantastic.

Stade Rennais were heavily tipped to beat Celtic given their second position in Ligue 1, big spending and two wins over the mighty PSG in last season’s French Cup and another in the league this season.

The truth was, Celtic were more than a match for Stade Rennais. The French side drew first blood when Kristoffer Ajer hauled down M’Baye Niang in the penalty box.

It was out of character for the Norwegian youngster. He attempted to slide tackle whilst taking hold of Niang’s arm with one hand and his shirt with the other.

There was only going to be one outcome. It was a stupid mistake.

Celtic needed a response, but they weren’t getting any favours from the Spanish referee. Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez had an appalling match.

His decision making was inconsistent and he lost more and more control of the match as it wore on. He failed to book two Stade Rennais players for similar incidents to the one Odsonne Edouard was booked for.

Eddy was given a yellow for simulation. I had reservations about it having seen him kick the ground.

The two Stade Rennais incidents should have received the same discipline. At the end of the day if it isn’t a foul against the attacking team then surely it’s simulation?

Having been denied a stonewall penalty in the second half, Celtic finally got one when James Forrest was tripped in the box. Ryan Christie, the man who had his foot trampled on in the box earlier on, but denied a clear penalty, stepped up and tucked the ball tightly into the right hand side of the goal.

It was more than Celtic deserved after showing to be more than a match for Stade Rennais on their own turf. Celtic looked like they could even win it.

However, the referee’s increasing loss of control descended into a shambles. He sent off substitue Vakoun Bayo after two quick yellow cards.

It was farcical from the Spanish official and was probably one of the worse pieces of refereeing I’ve seen in European competition. He’d get a job with the SFA with great ease.

Celtic could have won that game. I’d go as far to say they were the better team, but they did nothing wrong with the exception of Ajer gifting Stade Rennais a penalty.

That is the one thing Lennon will need to clamp down on. Individual errors.

The team are playing great as a unit. If individual mistakes are going to trip us up then those players, no matter who they are, need to buck up their ideas.

Mistakes in Europe can be costly. We’ve already felt that at the hands of Cluj.

For now, it’s a great start for Neil and the boys. More of the same please.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac