Glasgow Celtic will demand clarification from UEFA over the behavior of Spanish referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco in the 3-0 Parkhead defeat to Juventus that leaves Neil Lennon’s side on need of a Champions League miracle.
Lennon has all but admitted that his team have no chance of overcoming that deficit when they travel to Turin for the second leg of their last 16 tie.
A nightmare performance from referee Mallenco soured a great occasion in Glasgow as Inter’s rough handling of striker Gary Hooper dominated the post game discussion.
Pundits, including former Italian great Gianluca Vialli, felt Celtic deserved at least one penalty as Hooper was repeatedly held back within the box on corner-kicks.
Lennon blasted the ref after the game, and although UEFA have confirmed they won’t take any action over his comments, the Celtic boss wants to talk to them about the standard of refereeing in such a big game.
“The referee didn’t do his job and there has been a lot of talk since Tuesday night regarding it so we are looking for clarification on the referee’s decisions during the game,” Lennon said.
“We are going to compile a DVD and send it to UEFA and wait and see what answers we do get.
“We needed a strong referee and we didn’t have that. It was blatant. I have seen photographs where the shirt was almost pulled off Gary Hooper’s back and he ends up at one stage in the goal.
“I admire Gary for keeping his cool. If it had been me I might have got sent off for something I would have regretted later on.”
Celtic had their own problems to contend with after the game when Kris Commons was publicly critical of teammate Efe Ambrose.
The Nigerian had a disaster for two of the three Juve goals and missed a sitter himself after Lennon threw him into the action just 48 hours after he had played for Nigeria in the African Nations Cup final.
Lennon stood by the player and his decision to play afterwards, and Ambrose responded with a goal in Saturday’s 6-2 league win over Dundee United.
Lennon was reluctant to admit he made a mistake by playing Ambrose.
The former Celtic skipper said, “He was caught for the first goal but it was nothing to do with tiredness and I felt once he got over that he was fine.
“There was no sign of tiredness when he goes in and should score with a header, that is down to a bad miss. Maybe late as the game progressed he did tire, but with losing Mikael Lustig we had no alternative but to keep Efe on because we needed the pace at the back.
“You always ask questions in hindsight and maybe it was a bit of gamble, but I can’t really criticize the team apart from the final bit of quality to get us a goal.”
Commons claimed Ambrose has to take responsibility for his performance in the 3-0 defeat by Juventus.
Commons told reporters, “Look, the manager picked him. The manager pulled him to one side and asked him if he was feeling okay. He said he was feeling brilliant.
“If he wasn’t feeling okay then he should have said so. If he felt good then he should have put in a better performance.
“It was just very sloppy individual mistakes for the three goals, something you’d probably get away with on a playground, not in the last 16 of the Champions League.
“There are certain individuals who let the team down. Hopefully this is just a one off.”
Commons was also critical of the referee and told BBC Scotland, “Gary Hooper was pulled down to the ground on far too many occasions and we got no rewards.
“You’ve got a referee there, a guy behind the goal, a linesman. The whole idea of the official behind the goal is to look out for this sort of stuff.
“If he can’t identify when people are being hauled, manhandled, wrestled to the floor, then I don’t think he should be in a job.”
Inter defender Stephan Lichtsteiner has defended his actions on the night and claimed Celtic have no reason to feel aggrieved at the way Juventus defended.
He told Sky Sports, “It’s normal. I think it is part of football that they play the corners and the free-kicks, and of course they score more than 40 per cent of their goals in the Champions League from free-kicks, and they look to block the goalkeeper.
“It was my role today to keep him away from our goalkeeper Buffon. It is more a foul from him than for me because if you attack the goalkeeper it is a goal.”
Looking ahead to the return leg in Turin, Lennon said, “It is the harsh reality of football at this level. We didn’t get off to a good start but our reaction was fantastic.
“We need a miracle. We have to try to be competitive and try to work our way into the tie, a 3-0 deficit is almost insurmountable. It is a huge ask.”
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