The Incident

Celtic suffered their heaviest defeat to Rangers since 2007 on Sunday as the crashed to a 4-1 loss at Ibrox.

Goals from Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defoe alongside a Kemar Roofe double confirmed victory for Steven Gerrard’s side, while Odsonne Edouard grabbed a consolation strike for the visitors.

The big talking point of the game came just 26 minutes in when Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor was sent off.

HeraldScotland:

The Scotland international had only collected his first caution for a trip on Ryan Kent three minutes before.

For his second, referee Nick Walsh waved play on as McGregor crunched into Glen Kamara in the build up to Kemar Roofe’s opener but returned to show the Parkhead ace his second yellow as Gers celebrated.

It was a devastating double blow and while they did briefly level through Edouard, Celtic were powerless to prevent Rangers racking up their fifth Old Firm derby win of the season.

What was said

John Kennedy hit out at Old Firm novice Walsh as he laid responsibility for Celtic’s heaviest derby defeat in 13 years at the feet of the debutant referee.

HeraldScotland:

“Callum being sent off at the same time as Rangers score obviously swings the game in their favour,” he said. “We got ourselves back into it but in key moments we weren’t strong enough in defending our box.

“When we did have our chances, which are always going to be hard to come by with 10 men, we just couldn’t get the ball in the net.

“It was a bit of what we have been (all season) again – but made all the harder because of the decision to send Callum off.

“I think it’s a bad decision. Not the second one because he’s on a yellow and makes a tackle on the ground.

HeraldScotland:

“I asked the referee for clarity at half-time on why he booked him for the first one. His words to me exactly were ‘it was a reckless challenge’. It wasn’t reckless, I’ve seen it. There was no malice, no intent in terms of any power behind the tackle.

“It was a big game for a young official who doesn’t have a lot of experience. He makes a very harsh call which costs us.

“Callum is gutted. He is the most disappointed man at Ibrox today.

“I feel for him because I don’t think he deserved it. Okay, he makes a decision to go to ground (for the second one) which he’ll learn from. But he shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place, he shouldn’t have had a yellow card earlier.”

The Rule

The sub section ‘advantage’ in the laws of the game for 2020/21 reads:

“If the referee plays the advantage for an offence for which a caution/sending-off would have been issued had play been stopped, this caution/sending-off must be issued when the ball is next out of play.

HeraldScotland:

“However, if the offence was denying the opposing team an obvious goal-scoring opportunity the player is cautioned for unsporting behaviour; if the offence was interfering with or stopping a promising attack, the player is not cautioned.

“Advantage should not be applied in situations involving serious foul play, violent conduct or a second cautionable offence unless there is a clear opportunity to score a goal.

“The referee must send off the player when the ball is next out of play, but if the player plays the ball or challenges/interferes with an opponent, the referee will stop play, send off the player and restart with an indirect free kick, unless the player committed a more serious offence.

“If a defender starts holding an attacker outside the penalty area and continues holding inside the penalty area, the referee must award a penalty kick.”

The Verdict

As stated in the rules of the game an “advantage should not be applied in situations involving serious foul play, violent conduct or a second cautionable offence unless there is a clear opportunity to score a goal”. After Kamara was brought down by McGregor the ball lands with Ryan Kent before the ball is moved to Joe Aribo in the left-hand side of the box. This is a “clear opportunity” for Rangers to score especially considering five attackers were in and around the penalty area.

HeraldScotland:

Walsh can be seen assessing the situation in a split second before signalling for the advantage and going by the rule book he has got the decision spot on.

Walsh was also correct with his issue of both yellow cards for McGregor. The first foul halted a Rangers counter attack as he clearly caught Kent after being nutmegged. The second was also a clear booking after lunging in on Kamara at the edge of the box. McGregor should have no complaints.