Both Clint Hill and Leigh Griffiths believed Celtic were denied a penalty right at the end of the match. When such a thing happens, it’s fair enough to point the finger of blame at referee Bobby Madden whose poor afternoon was topped, or maybe that should be bottomed, when he didn’t think Hill committed a foul on the Celtic striker as he was about to score.
Hill admitted he had no idea whether he got a touch of the ball. He did probably brush against it but that was after he went through the back of his opponent which isn’t allowed.
Loading article content
Griffiths said: “He didn’t make contact with the ball and that decision has cost us three points. Bobby Madden is the only man in the stadium who didn’t think it was a penalty but it’s over and done with now and I can’t keep going on about it.”
Don’t worry, Leigh. There will be plenty of others more than happy to go on and on about it.
The Rangers defender is a good sort and it is to his credit he didn’t try to pretend that he’d got away with one.
Asked if he thought it was a penalty, Clint said: “Maybe, yeah. It could have gone either way and with it being here at their place, nine times out of 10 it is given. It was a last ditch to try and get the ball. I don’t know if I got it or not.
“You are always conscious of [the whistle] with a last ditch tackle like that. Thankfully for us it didn’t go and we got a bit of luck that I thought we deserved over the course of the 90 minutes.
“I would say we are probably lucky in terms of it being at Celtic and, if a challenge goes in with their fans and the noise they make then it puts the referee under pressure.”
Poor refereeing decisions aside, this was a different and better Rangers side and at least Clint, now 38, can say he scored a goal against Celtic. “To play in such a big game like the Old Firm is an achievement in itself and to score such an important goal is definitely up there in my long career,” said the veteran defender who was quick to praise Graeme Murty.
“I think credit has got to go to Murts and his team,” said Hill. “Maybe for two games out of the past five or six we have been poor but I think in general we have responded well to what he has wanted from us. He gave us a structure and a platform and put belief and confidence back in us.
“We are very proud of him as well. He has come in and done a great job for the club. He can hold his head up high.”
Rangers were written off by everyone and understandably so. This group had done nothing to suggest this performance was in them. They deserve credit for proving everyone wrong. They at least showed Pedro Caixinha something good.
“I don’t know what the new manager would have made of it,” said Hill “Hopefully he will have taken a lot of positives from it. I’ve never spoken to him or seen him before so I think we are all very anxious to meet him and get going straight away.
“Hopefully in the next 48 hours we’ll get to meet him as a team and will hit the ground running with what he wants from us. I think he’s got plenty to work with. I think we created some decent opportunities but unfortunately couldn’t take them.”
Griffiths was a frustrated man, but then that has been his state of mind for most of this season. Injury and Moussa Dembele have not helped his quest to score 100 Celtic goals; however, maybe now is the time he started more which would allow his young French colleague a rest.
“It wasn’t our greatest performance but you have to give Rangers a bit of credit because they came here and stuck to their game plan and got a point,” said Griffiths.
“For us it was all about continuing that unbeaten run and taking another step towards wrapping up the title. There had been a lot of talk about us going and scoring a lot of goals but you’ll have seen in our last few games against them that Rangers have shut up shop.
“We knew that it would be a close game, that they’d come here to defend and hit us on the counter. But our display was poor. Hopefully, when we go to Hampden for the semi-final we can show everyone what we’re all about.
“Rangers knew it was going to be a hard afternoon for them and, if you’d offered them a point before the game, they’d have snatched your hand off.”
Griffiths declared that he felt fit and that his relationship with Brendan Rodgers was strong, despite the manager having a delicate public dig at him recently.