Leigh Griffiths' gesture to Linfield fans before they threw a bottle at him

  • Kat Lucas

Celtic will no doubt have mixed feelings coming away from their Champions League qualifier against Linfield.

Brendan Rodgers’ men wrapped up a 2-0 win and but for the brilliance of former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll, the scoreline could have been even bigger.

Somewhat inevitably, though, the game was marred by several unsavoury incidents.

The game was already being held two days later than originally scheduled to avoid the two clubs meeting on the 12th July – the date when Northern Ireland’s Unionist community celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Celtic tried to limit sectarian tensions by turning down their ticket allocation, but as so many of the Hoops’ supporters already live in Belfast, a small group made it into Windsor Park.

Yet, it was the home crowd responsible for the most worrying moment, as Leigh Griffiths was pelted with objects at the corner flag.

The 26-year-old was booked for time-wasting when he showed the referee a bottle that had been thrown his way – which just sums up the hostile atmosphere Celtic were having to contend with.

Of course, there’s absolutely no justification for the fans’ behaviour. However, an image has been doing the rounds that appears to show the forward winding up the supporters.

Griffiths’ gesture

The Scotland international was seen holding up six fingers in a ‘5-1’ gesture – a reference to the most recent Old Firm against Rangers. Take a look:


Linfield and Rangers are both associated with the majority Protestant, Loyalists in the north of Ireland, whereas Celtic have ties with the Catholic nationalist community.

There was no need for the home end to react as they did. All the same, it was a bit of a silly move from Griffiths.

Both sets of fans took issue with some of their opponents’ song choices and flag displays – but it’s the bottle incident that could prompt a fine from UEFA, with the BBC suggesting that the hosts could be forced to play a future game behind closed doors.

After the final whistle, riot police intervened in a few more minor incidents. Then again, it’s remarkable that a game between Celtic and Linfield taking place at the height of Belfast’s marching season was relatively contained.

How should Linfield be punished for the incident? Have your say in the comments. 

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