'Obvious it is going to be a red' - Hearts v Celtic decision backed by referee duo who claim VAR was correct

Former referees Stuart Dougal and Dermot Gallagher have backed the decision to send of Alex Cochrane during Hearts’ 2-0 home defeat to Celtic on Sunday.

The Englishman was shown a straight red card by Nick Walsh after Willie Collum, on VAR, intervened following the original decision to award a yellow card after the defender fouled Daizen Maeda outside the box towards the end of the first half at Tynecastle Park. It was deemed that the Hearts star had denied a goal-scoring opportunity.

Interim Hearts boss Steven Naismith said he didn't agree with the game-changing decision after the match. “That is my opinion but there is still a bit of work to be done by [Daizen] Maeda as he heads into the box," he noted. “He is travelling at speed, the ball is moving, and there are recovering players. I thought the referee made the right call. He is the closest to it and he sees it. Our players were in disbelief when the decision was checked and overturned because he still had a lot of work to do before he gets a finish.”

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As per the IFAB rules of the game, the following must be considered regarding the denial of a goal or obvious goal-scoring opportunity: distance between the offence and the goal, general direction of the play, likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball, location and number of defenders.

‘The law says...’

Both Dougal and Gallagher, speaking on BBC and Sky Sports respectively, believe it was the denial of “an obvious goal-scoring opportunity" despite the presence of Kye Rowles.

"One of my friends is a Hearts fan and he sent me a message last night saying he didn’t think it was right but I actually think it is a red card," Gallagher said. “The reason I think it is a red card. If you watch from the side, at that point [where Cochrane makes contact with Maeda] the defender [Kye Rowles] is not going to catch the player. Cochrane brings him down, he's going to head to goal, the goalkeeper can't get the ball. The law says 'will he get a shot away?’ For the referee, I understand in normal play why it is a yellow card but he can't see that but when he goes to the screen he sees what I've seen there. It’s obvious it is going to be a red card."

Meanwhile, Dougal, speaking on BBC’s VAR-dict show, said: "First and foremost the VAR situation, VAR thinks that there is a clear and obvious error. The match referee has got a certain angle as you can see him coming in from the left to the right. He doesn’t have a particularly wide angle. You can understand, or I can understand, why he may have thought it was a yellow. But when it’s stopped there [contact between Cochrane and Maeda], for me there's no doubt that it is denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and therefore it is a red card.”

Celtic would score twice in the second half on their way to the 2-0 win which confirmed the Premiership title win.



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