Celtic boss Neil Lennon has kissed and made up with Rangers coach Ally McCoist after the pair came close to blows on the sidelines after a tempestuous Old Firm derby.
Lennon and McCoist had to be dragged apart after Wednesday night’s 1-0 Scottish Cup fifth round replay win for Celtic when three Rangers players were red carded at Parkhead.
A Mark Wilson goal sent Celtic into the quarter-finals but the game hit the headlines for other reasons as Rangers had Steven Whittaker and Madjid Bougherra sent-off during the game and El Hadji Diouf was red carded after it.
Celtic coach Johann Mjallby was also involved in a tunnel spat with Rangers players at half-time and Lennon traded abuse with Diouf on the sideline.
Referee Calum Murray issued 13 yellow cards, 10 of them to Rangers, and the Scottish FA slammed the behavior of all concerned in a statement on Thursday morning which confirmed they will hold an investigation into events on and off the pitch.
The Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has also announced that a summit will be held next week to discuss ‘serious disorder issues’ surrounding Old Firm games after 34 arrests inside the stadium.
It may have been a typical Glasgow derby but Lennon issued a statement, via the Celtic website, later on Thursday to confirm he had settled his dispute with Rangers manager elect McCoist in his office after the match.
“Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, things can be said,” said Lennon.
“However, we were still able to sit down after the game and, as far as we are concerned, the matter is closed.
“It is a passionate game and both of us want our team to win.”
Scottish FA chief Stewart Regan slammed both Celtic and Rangers for: “Inflammatory and irresponsible behavior.”
He added: “The angry confrontation between Lennon and McCoist was not only unsavory but exacerbated an already incendiary atmosphere inside the stadium and throughout the West of Scotland.”
Celtic have reacted angrily to Regan’s comments. Their chief executive Peter Lawwell, who watched the game alongside the club’s Irish owner Dermot Desmond, said: “I believe that events should be put into some perspective.
“Celtic had three players booked last night. To put this in the context of other matches, St Johnstone last night received two bookings in their match against Aberdeen, while Motherwell received five bookings against Celtic last Sunday.
“Contrary to Stewart’s statement, I do not think that our players showed a lack of respect to officials.
“The team remained composed throughout what was, at times, a difficult game and the fact that only three of our players were booked is evidence of that composure and discipline which provided the foundation for us to go and win the match.
“They should be congratulated in this regard.”
Lawwell also praised the behavior of the Celtic fans and players. He said: “Our fans once again provided an excellent display of how to support the team in a positive and inspiring manner.
“Our players, too, deserve great praise, not just for winning the match but also in the manner of the victory. They should be congratulated on their discipline.”
Celtic will now travel to play Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals.
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