Celtic reaction: Mischievous response on VAR penalty similar to Rangers clash, Rocco Vata situation, sushi and Buckie fines

It was a straightforward Scottish Cup afternoon for holders – except for disallowed goals and checks

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers offered up a mischievous response to a third-minute penalty award for his team being overturned by a VAR offside call in his team’s 5-0 thumping of Buckie Thistle in their fourth round Scottish Cup tie.

Clearly making a veiled allusion to the similar circumstances that surrounded the non-penalty award for Alistair Johnston handball in Celtic’s recent derby victory over Rangers – which would have been negated by an earlier offside – the Northern Irishman questioned why there had even been a check for Liel Abada being felled in the box, a result of the winger having strayed offside in the lead-up to the incident. Indeed, Rodgers clearly allowed himself a wink when he concluded his assessment of the frustration over the VAR “protocols” on an afternoon when his team had the ball in the net four times before the assistant’s flag was raised.

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“It’s just unfortunate,” Rodgers said of these moments. “I think the frustrating one was the penalty one that was looked at. It shouldn’t be looked at: it’s offside. But they had to for some reason, it’s protocol, according to the fourth official. They had to look to see if it’s a penalty first before they look to disallow it because it’s offside, which just seems ridiculous. If it’s offside then the penalty doesn’t even matters. As we know …”

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers during the 5-0 win over Buckie Thistle.Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers during the 5-0 win over Buckie Thistle.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers during the 5-0 win over Buckie Thistle.

The major surprise of the occasion in which Rodgers fielded a full-strength side – apart from resting midfielder and captain Callum McGregor – was the last half hour run out given to Rocco Vata. The teenage attacker has been linked with all manner of moves in this transfer window as his current contract enters its final six months, and wasn’t expected to be glimpsed again in the senior Celtic set-up. Instead, he bagged his first goal at this level in a cameo wherein he could have easily scored a hat-trick on replacing Kyogo Furuhashi.

“Young players have to earn the right and the likes of Rocco there has been a lot of noise around him but he is a very young player and he has to earn the opportunity,” Rodgers said. “I’ve given many young players an opportunity in my career. I like Rocco. He has qualities. He is strong, he’s aggressive and from 25 yards in he wants to get goals. You can see even when he came on he got his goals and he had another few opportunities. That’s good for him, he got a taste for it.”

Buckie manager Graeme Stewart revelled in the taste of the big time his players earned – the once in a hundred year event for the Highland League club , he hoped would be replicated – though he joked their could be price to pay for some of his charges. “I thought the attitude was tremendous, in the dressing room the boys are out on their feet and cramping up,” Stewart said, not wanting to take that sentiment too far owing to the scoreline. “Celtic gave us so much respect and took it seriously in playing a full team, and that was good. We would rather have played against that than a second-string and the guys can keep that memory forever. None of the players were in our changing room after the game; they were all in the Celtic changing room.

“Celtic were brilliant, taking them in – though I noticed Celtic had sushi and nicer food than us. Brendan Rodgers was brilliant, he gave a speech in our changing room and praised our attitude, and said come in [to their dressing room] .They gave us strips, signed strips, and they didn’t have to do that. One or two even asked for our strips, which I’m not happy about. I said to the guys they are getting fined now because they cost us 50 quid.”