Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson revealed his defender Cedric Kipre was reduced to tears by the controversial penalty decision which clinched Celtic’s victory in the Betfred Cup final at Hampden.
With Celtic already 1-0 up through a James Forrest goal, referee Craig Thomson showed Kipre a straight red card after deciding he had fouled Scott Sinclair inside the box. Moussa Dembele scored from the spot to effectively end the final as a contest.
Robinson found himself at loggerheads with Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers afterwards as the two Ulstermen offered sharply contrasting views of the incident which has seen Sinclair widely accused of simulation.
“The kid [Kipre] is crying,” said Robinson, pictured. “He’s 20 years of age and been sent off in his first cup final. He hasn’t touched him [Sinclair]. He hasn’t laid a finger on him. I’m not one of those managers who comes and criticises other people’s players. I’ll keep my dignity. But Cedric hasn’t touched him, so it’s hard to take.
“The game is over with that decision. For me, there is no contact but once that decision is made, the game is over.
“It completely changes the game. Craig Gordon had a great save from Louis Moult just before that. Then Kieran Tierney catches Louis as he goes into the box, ready to finish – no penalty. Then there’s that decision that clearly changes the game.
“Congratulations to Celtic, they are a top, top football team and we all acknowledge that. But it’s hard to take in that manner. I’d rather have been pumped six or seven-nil than have the game affected by that decision.”
Rodgers, though, felt Thomson made the correct call on a day when Celtic stretched their record unbeaten run in domestic football to 65 matches.
“I look at it and think it’s a penalty,” said Rodgers. “It’s a great ball and Scotty makes the run and is getting there. Obviously the defender cannot get there, so he impedes him. He pulls him. So I think it’s a penalty.
“I’m not sure what the rules are now, so I’m not sure it’s a sending-off. I’m sure Stephen will feel the sending-off is a bit harsh. But I definitely thought it was a penalty. He has impeded Scotty when he’s in the box.”
Rodgers praised his team for their response to last Wednesday night’s 7-1 Champions League humiliation away to Paris Saint-Germain as they maintained their vice-like grip as masters of Scottish football.
“It’s a brilliant victory for us today,” he added. “We had to tick a few character boxes after midweek and yet again the players produced.
“It was always going to be difficult for us with the way Motherwell have started the season and the confidence with which they play.
“We were always going to have to be patient today and wait for our moments. Once we got the first goal, we then settled into a rhythm.
“It’s our fourth trophy in 12 months which is a phenomenal achievement really.”
Rodgers becomes the first Celtic manager to win the first four domestic trophies he has contested and also the first since Jock Stein to win four in a row at any time. “I didn’t know that up until yesterday when someone mentioned it to me,” he said. “So of course it’s a very special thing to have happen to you. But today is a trophy for everyone at the club. You saw the support today was absolutely amazing, three-quarters of the stadium really helping the team. The backroom staff, with the work that they put in, combined with the players, meant that today was a great reward.”