CELTIC coach John Kennedy has leapt to the defence of striker John Guidetti after he was accused of diving against Hearts on Sunday.
The Swedish frontman was labelled a “conman” by Sky Sports pundit Neil McCann after his part in the penalty decision which killed off Hearts’ hopes of winning the William Hill Scottish Cup clash at Tynecastle.
The on-loan Manchester City forward tumbled as Brad McKay slid in inside his own box seven minutes into the second half - but television replies showed the Jambos defender made no contact with his opponent.
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Referee Willie Collum gave the spot-kick, though, and Celtic - already a goal up and playing against 10 men after Morgaro Gomis’ first-half red card - went on to claim a 4-0 win and place in the last 16 after Guidetti himself dispatched the penalty.
But Celtic first-team coach Kennedy insisted the Parkhead striker is no cheat.
He said: “I don’t think it was a dive. Nowadays you can be too critical of referees in these situations. It’s either a stonewall penalty or it was a dive. There seems to be no middle ground.
“I’ve seen the incident once. John is not a player who dives. He’s not a player who tries to cheat.
“It looks like his momentum has tried to take the player forward, he’s cut back and fell over. If you look at the pictures back, he’s not jumping about claiming for a penalty.
“The referee quickly gives it. Whether or not it is a penalty, we’ve not said anything else.
“The referee has given it very quickly, which means in his mind it is a penalty kick. That was the end of the matter. We got the decision, we scored, we moved on.”
But Kennedy insists the incident did not fundamentally alter the outcome.
“The penalty wasn’t mentioned after the game,” he said. “We were very convincing in our victory. Even at 1-0, if we had not got that decision we would have still been very confident of going on to win the match.”
Celtic’s reward for thumping Robbie Neilson’s men is a trip to Tayside to face Dundee on either February 7 or 8.
Ronny Deila’s team were held to a score draw on their last visit to Dens Park at the end of August but edged the Dark Blues 2-1 at Parkhead the weekend before last.
“It’s going to be tough,” admitted Kennedy. “It is a game that we will have to bring our A game for, because if we have an off day, Dundee will certainly take advantage of that.
“They have come up and settled into the top league quickly. We have certainly found that from the way they have performed against us.
“They showed great spirit and desire to beat Aberdeen at the weekend and sometimes that is the most important thing in cup matches.”
With the Scottish champions due to take on Old Firm rivals Rangers on February 1 in the League Cup semi-finals, Kennedy did admit to some relief that the powder-keg Hampden clash did not become the first part of an explosive double header.
But the former Scotland defender was adamant that avoiding the Ibrox men does not mean Celtic will have it easy as they look to lift the Scottish Cup for the third time in five years.
He said: “Sometimes it can be a big distraction because people get so caught up in the Celtic-Rangers thing
“At this stage we were looking for a home draw. We didn’t get it and we’re away to Dundee. So this one will be as difficult as any we could have got, whether that be Rangers or anyone else.
“We’ve got a Premiership team away from home but that does mean if you go on to win the cup then you will have certainly merited it.”
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