By Matt Farr
Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher believes the decision to award Ross County a penalty against Celtic changed the game in more ways than one.
Celtic had been brutally denied three points by referee Don Robertson in their clash at Dingwall on Sunday, when a controversial penalty was awarded to the home side for an alleged foul on Alex Schalk.
The Ross County winger was deemed to have been felled in the area by Celtic’s Erik Sviatchenko, although video replays have clearly shown there to have been minimal contact.
Liam Boyce fired the resulting penalty past Craig Gordon in the Celtic net, condemning the Scottish Premiership champions to a 2-2 draw.
Reflecting on the incident for Sky Sports, Gallagher believes that the incorrect decision from Robertson to award a penalty sparked a period of play that overshadowed the whole game.
Robertson also showed a straight red card to Celtic midfielder Scott Brown for a heavy challenge on Boyce just minutes after the Ross County equaliser, and Gallagher thinks the dismissal stemmed from the penalty.
He said: “It wasn’t a foul and in Scotland, they have the retrospective punishment. I wonder, looking back, whether it unsettled the referee.
“He took a lot of stick off the Celtic players, whether that unsettled him, and then the two incidents that followed too quickly, first with Scott Brown, who is a great professional, great leader, great captain.
“He’s so angry about what happened, he’s in the tackle. It’s just made him more and more angry. That two to three minute cameo period is what that game will be remembered for, and it all stemmed from one decision.”
The Celtic players were left fuming at the initial decision to award a penalty to the home side, and full-back Kieran Tierney continued the protests after the game by calling for Schalk to be handed a ban for simulation.
As Gallagher touched upon, Scottish football rules allow players to be issued retrospective bans for diving, and Tierney called for Schalk to fall prey to the system for his actions.
Hearts winger Jamie Walker had been hit with a two-match ban for his dive against Celtic earlier in the season.
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