Television replays showed that the Japanese striker was in front of the cross from Anthony Ralston for his 33rd minute win in an engrossing spectacle in Glasgow’s east end. The location all too relevant for an embittered Neilson, who witnessed his side take the game to their hosts in an epic closing stages.
“I felt we didn’t get beaten by Celtic, we got beaten by poor decisions by the referee and linesman,” said Neilson in also implicating man in the middle Bobby Madden.
“We can all laugh and joke about these things. I made a comment after our game at Ibrox [that ended 1-1] and got the book thrown at me, so I can’t say too much about this one. But it’s offside. He’s ahead of the ball. The linesman has got to see it. I’ve seen it, everyone would agree. The linesman had a brilliant view. I tried to speak to the officials but it’s a waste of time. You end up just getting banned or getting yellow or red cards. I’m sure the linesman and referee will have a look at it, they’ll WhatsApp each other and they’ll move on to the next game.”
Neilson was also despairing over Madden’s decision to stop the game when Celtic winger Jota went down with a hamstring issue midway through the second period. “I’d end up going to jail if I said what I really think about it,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. The boy pulls his hamstring and the referee stops the game and gives them the ball back when we’re going to counter-attack. But that’s Scottish football, you’re in Glasgow.
"I have two emotions - frustration because we got done by a poor decision for the goal. The second one is pride in the players because I thought we played exceptionally well, especially in the second half. I thought we pressed the game, got up on it and had belief in ourselves. We came here in the [Premier Sports] cup three months ago and we couldn't get in the game [before losing 3-2]. Tonight's performance is what we need to get to and we need to do it consistently. And we need to score goals off the back of it.”
Neilson could also only have been left dismayed by an incident in the second half when Barrie McKay was struck by a bottle as he prepared to take a corner at the corner of the ground occupied by Celtic ultras group the Green Brigade.
"I only found out coming down the tunnel when somebody came and asked him if he got hit on the back with a bottle. I don't know the ins and outs so I'm not going to say too much about it, but it is disappointing.”