Last year, Celtic boss Neil Lennon and his players gained tremendous recognition for completing a task that only few teams have been able to accomplish in recent history: beating Barcelona.
The Scottish team were once again hoping to send ripples through Europe on Tuesday, but it ultimately was not meant to be as Cesc Fabregas, filling in the role of the injured Lionel Messi, sealed a win for the Blaugrana from an Alexis Sanchez cross in the second half.
While all the plaudits should have gone to Barcelona for showing their tenacity and claiming three points at a stadium where even Messi could not get them three points last season, Barcelona’s brilliance has been overlooked, with all attention instead turning to the game changing moment in the 59th minute when Celtic captain Scott Brown was sent off.
After fouling Neymar, Brown proceeded to give a faint kick to the Brazilian who was still lying on the ground from the preceding foul and who then proceeded to milk the challenge in turn. Instead of a yellow he would have surely gotten away with for the original foul, Brown got a straight red for the following kick.
Discussion inevitably surrounded this game changing moment after the game and Lennon
was adamant that the red card decision “was very soft”.
"There was a lot more going on in the game that warranted heavy punishment. I don't think Neymar does himself any favours with the way he behaves at times. I don't think I need to justify my defending of my captain; I think the sending off is uncalled for and unnecessary”, insisted the Celtic boss.
While Neymar certainly over-dramatised the foul with his reaction, it is evident that the little follow through by Brown was absolutely intended and therefore he deserved a red card, regardless of whether the contact was minimal or not.
He had already successfully stopped the run of Neymar and there was absolutely no reason why there should have been a follow through, regardless of how faint it was. The intention in itself was enough to produce the red card and the Celtic captain should be ashamed of himself for undoing an hour of hard work, not only by him, but also by his team mates, with a silly kick that eventually led Barcelona to capitalise on their numerical advantage.
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