Ronny Deila wants Aidan Connolly cited for ‘dive’

AFTER an extraordinary match at Tannadice yesterday, Celtic manager Ronny Deila has challenged the Scottish Football Association’s compliance officer to charge Dundee United’s Aidan Connolly with simulation.

Aidan Connolly (bottom left) earns Dundee Utd a penalty after going down in the box. Picture: SNS
Aidan Connolly (bottom left) earns Dundee Utd a penalty after going down in the box. Picture: SNS

The call comes after a heated Scottish Cup quarter-final tie in which ten-man Celtic were held 1-1 by United, who had nine men from shortly after the start of the second-half when Paul Dixon was sent off for handball.

Leigh Griffiths saw the resultant penalty saved by United goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak. The striker later equalised Nadir Ciftci’s 45th minute penalty opener, earned after what Deila protested had been a dive by Connolly.

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In a month when they were already due to play three times, including at this weekend’s League Cup final, it means Dundee United and Celtic will meet one more time for the honour of playing either Inverness Caledonian Thistle or Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup last four.

Aidan Connolly (bottom left) earns Dundee Utd a penalty after going down in the box. Picture: SNS

The replay is scheduled for 18 March, between this weekend’s cup final clash and the league meeting between the teams on 21 March.

At the semi-final draw held at Tannadice last night, Hibernian, who defeated Berwick Rangers 4-0 yesterday, were drawn to play Falkirk in a replay of their 2013 semi-final.

Little else was clear-cut yesterday save for a case of mistaken identity that saw Paul Paton red-carded after ten minutes by referee Craig Thomson following an incident involving Virgil van Dijk, who was also red-carded, and Calum Butcher.

The last named got off scot-free after Paton was fingered as the culprit by a combination of both Thomson and his nearside assistant, Graham Chambers. Unless Celtic appeal, Van Dijk will now miss the League Cup final on Sunday. Paton, meanwhile, will surely be exonerated although what this means for Butcher remains to be seen.

On the subject of Van Dijk, Deila said “We will see what we have to do”. The compliance officer might also be persuaded to look at the incident just before the clash between Van Dijk and Butcher, which saw Scott Brown launch a heavy challenge at Ciftci, who retaliated by kicking out at the Celtic captain.

Deila was more insistent on the subject of the penalty that saw United take the lead through Ciftci, just before half-time. Connolly was the player who earned the award when he tumbled to the turf following a challenge by Anthony Stokes, with television pictures appearing to suggest there was precious little, if any, contact.

The Norwegian was particularly eager to see the compliance officer look at this incident again since Celtic player Derek Boerrigter was handed a two-match ban for simulation during a match against St Johnstone in August.

“It is a dive and hopefully it will be the same rules for everybody,” said Deila. “We are the only team this season in the league to have a suspension for diving, in the case of Derk Boerrigter. I said at the time that it was no problem because that is the line that will be taken by everyone. But I don’t think anybody has had it since then. The Scottish players have been unbelievably good. They’ve not dived but if they do, it should be the same rules.”

Deila was misinformed about Boerrigter being the only top-flight player charged for such an offence this season – St Johnstone player Brian Graham, who is on loan from Dundee United, was handed a two-match ban after being judged to have dived to win a penalty in a clash with Inverness in November.

Asked whether it was the fault of the referee or Connolly for the penalty that saw Celtic go in at the interval one goal down, Deila observed that both must share the responsibility.

“I accept that people make mistakes,” he said. “But if we have a rule where people look at things afterwards then it has to be [for everyone]. I don’t see anybody else getting suspensions. I can’t understand that we are the worst at this in the league and nobody else is doing anything.”