ROSS County manager Malky Mackay has expressed his astonishment that Celtic were awarded a penalty in the cinch Premiership match at the Global Energy Stadium this afternoon - and warned that VAR is going to cost people their jobs.

County fell behind against Celtic in added-on time at the end of the first half after VAR official Steve Kirkland reviewed a Matt O’Riley corner into their area and advised referee Willie Collum to have a look at it again on the pitchside monitor.

Collum immediately gave a spot kick after ruling that Alex Iacovitti had handled the delivery as he jumped with his opponent Cameron Carter-Vickers for the ball – and Celtic winger Jota stepped forward and put the visitors ahead.

The Herald:

Mackay, whose team lost 2-0 after conceding an injury-time goal to substitute Alexando Bernabei, had made his way down the tunnel after the corner because he believed the opening 45 minutes was over.

The former Watford, Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic manager, whose team remain just two points above Dundee United at the bottom of the Premiership table after the loss, was furious with the decision and predicted the new technology will have grave consequences.  

“I’ve looked at the penalty about half a dozen times and I cannot believe that’s where the bar is set with VAR right now,” he said.

“Two players go for the ball bravely with their heads. Carter-Vickers and Alex Iacovitti both throw their heads at it and the ball goes between their heads and it hits Alex on the back of his arm. It’s ball to arm.

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“Someone is going to have to explain to me how you jump for a ball in the box and have your arms at your side. Physically, it can’t happen. I’m looking at where the bar is set in England and where it’s set in Scotland and right now we’re not where they are.

“Clubs are paying for this. I look at standards right now and there are mistakes all over the place. It’s costing. It’s going to cost jobs, it’s going to cost clubs promotion, relegation, Europe, whatever you want to call it. I was really disappointed with that, intervening like that.”

Mackay added: “The fourth official had told me we were now over time so I was standing at the back of the tunnel. I could see the referee start to debate and discuss and then come over to the monitor. I thought: ‘Surely not’.

“I spoke to him at half-time and he said it was the laws of the game and he has to give a penalty for the laws of the game. It’s an interesting concept.

“I was surprised at how quickly he made the decision because you will see it tonight and you will see pundits debate it all week. It’s incredible that’s where the VAR is set right now.”

The Herald:

Mackay, who handed 16-year-old centre half Dylan Smith his first start, was pleased at how County performed during the 90 minutes and expressed hope they can secure their top flight survival during the run-in.

“I was really proud of my players today,” he said. “I’ve just told them if they play like that in the next eight games we’re going to do okay.

“I thought first half we played in a way that negated Celtic and their pattern of play. I thought we were really brave in the second half, we made them make errors, more so than I’ve seen Celtic make this season.”