Neil Lennon - Shameless Cheat
This was the big one - at ‘home’ to the champions in the SPL and live on Setanta TV. It turned out to be a day of drama and excitement but it ended in disappointment for the vast Caley Thistle support.
John Robertson made one change to the line-up with Barry Wilson starting and Steve Hislop reverting to the bench. Chris Sutton was missing from the Celtic line-up through injury but new signing Senegalese striker Henri Camara made his first start.
Celtic came out on top thanks to a wonder strike from Stan Petrov and a double from John Hartson but the defining moment of the afternoon was the 17th minute red card for ICT’s Juanjo.
The home side started confidently and Juanjo hit over in the first minute. Mark Brown saved from Alan Thompson and Petrov then pressure on the Celtic goal ended with headed clearances by Bobo Balde and Petrov. Camara hit past the post then Celtic ‘keeper David Marshall had to come out of his area to head away from Juanjo in 16 minutes.
The Spaniard’s game came to an end a minute later when he clashed with Neil Lennon. TV evidence confirmed that Lennon hit out at Juanjo after an accidental collision then Juanjo pushed Lennon’s chest. The Celt went down clutching his nose and fourth official Alan Freeland brought the incident to the attention of the referee – both he and his assistants saw nothing but a red card was produced for the Spaniard and Lennon received no punishment. Shameless cheating from Lennon.
[note: the red card was later rescinded]
Despite protests the decision stood and it was an uphill struggle for Caley Thistle after that. The team responded well and put up a great show but Celtic took advantage of the extra man in 25 minutes when Hartson headed in a Didier Agathe cross to make it 1-0.
Mark Brown was in fine form and he saved from Thompson in 29 minutes and Camara three minutes later. At the other end Marshall saved from Barry Wilson in 40 minutes but it fell for Liam Keogh – he shot over from 18 yards.
A Roy McBain corner in 42 minutes led to some confusion then a penalty award for hand-ball by Balde. It seemed a soft award but Wilson stepped up, sent Marshall the wrong way and it was 1-1. Stan Varga headed over at the other end and it remained 1-1 at the break.
Half Time: 1-1
The second half was virtually all Celtic. Hartson headed wide in 52 minutes then a minute later Brown brilliantly tipped over an 18 yard shot from Hartson. The second soft penalty of the match came in 67 minutes when Grant Munro’s arm made contact with the ball but Brown dived to his right to deny Petrov.
In the aftermath Ross Wallace crossed from the left and Petrov was there to score with a marvellous angled strike from the edge of the box. Hartson sealed it in 76 minutes when Brown parried a Joos Valgaeren shot and he was there to score from the rebound.
A Richie Hart curling free kick in 83 minutes was missed by everyone and three minutes from time Thompson hit the bar with a 25 yard free kick.
After three minutes of added time an Ian Black corner led to an old-fashioned stramash in the Celtic box, two shots blocked then a third saved by Marshall.
Full Time: 1-3
Celtic deserved their victory but with ten men it was a hard task for Caley Thistle. The teams have now met four times in competitive games and it is two games each.
Inverness CT: 1
Team: Brown, Tokely, McCaffrey, Munro, Golabek, Wilson (Prunty 70), Hart, Keogh, McBain (Black 81), Juanjo, Bayne (Hislop 65).
Subs Not Used: Dods, Duncan, Proctor, Fraser.
Booked: McBain, Hart, Hislop. - Sent Off: Juanjo (18).
Goal: Wilson 44 pen.
Team: Marshall, Agathe, Varga, Balde (Laursen 84), Valgaeren, Petrov (Lambert 80), Lennon, Thompson, Wallace (Pearson 80), Hartson, Camara.
Subs Not Used: Douglas, McGeady, Cuthbert, McManus.
Goals: Hartson 25, Petrov 68, Hartson 76.
Ref: D McDonald