Rangers reaction: Philippe Clement questions ‘circumstances’ against Celtic, has say on his yellow card and 'expensive' mistake

Clement unhappy at lack of communication from officials at ‘penalty’ incident involving Johnston as Rangers narrowly lose Belgian’s maiden Old Firm derby

Philippe Clement complained about the “circumstances” that were against his team and cost Rangers points after they fell 2-1 in the second Old Firm derby of the season.

The Ibrox manager watched his ten-man side stage a mini rally towards the end with a superb free-kick strike from skipper James Tavernier with two minutes of normal time signalling an exciting finale. Clement said he could understand why the decision to send off Leon Balogun was made, with the defender penalised for pulling down Daizen Maeda when the winger was straight through on goal after 71 minutes.

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“If he was the last man, it was a red card, so nothing to discuss about that,” he said. “Maybe we need to discuss then why there was no second yellow for a few tackles from players who had yellows on the other side.

Rangers manager Philippe Clement watches on as his team lost to Celtic.Rangers manager Philippe Clement watches on as his team lost to Celtic.
Rangers manager Philippe Clement watches on as his team lost to Celtic.

“It could have been a draw, we could have won it,” he added. “But the circumstances weren’t on our side. My team reacted in the second half, even after a world class goal to make it 2-0. It’s a very good goal and you can’t do too many things about it. But we never stopped, even with 10 men. We kept going and created enough chances to score our goal and others. We went until the end and everyone here became nervous.”

Clement was particularly strong on the penalty appeal for Rangers in the first half after Alistair Johnston handballed near the byline while challenging Abdallah Sima. A message indicated VAR was reviewing the decision by referee Nick Walsh not to award a penalty but it was later confirmed that an earlier offside meant the incident was redundant, although Clement was far from happy with this explanation. Play was restarted with a goalkick, for example.

“There was no communication towards me,” he said. “And if the communication is that Sima is offside, I’m not a referee - but there should have been a clear signal from VAR for offside. Then everyone knows the decision. There was no communication at that moment. Otherwise, the signal of the referee is not correct. So there’s been a mistake and it’s clear for everyone to see. I also make mistakes but it’s an expensive one today.”

Clement was yellow carded in the first half for protesting too vehemently after a throw-in was awarded to Celtic rather than Rangers. “I asked the referee at full-time why I got a yellow card. He said I reacted too hard about a ball that was clearly ours but was given to the other side. It was a small reaction, no swearing, nothing. But it was a day like that for us."

Rangers skipper James Tavernier, meanwhile, admitted his side were punished for not being clinical enough when they had chances, particularly in the opening half. “It’s like any game, you have to be clinical,” he said. “I think Kyogo has had two shots against us in two games and he has scored both of them. That’s the difference. We created good chances. Ross (McCausland) with his chance through one on one. We just have to be more clinical and take those chances.”

As for the Johnston handball penalty appeal, Tavernier said it was “a bit of a strange one”. He added: “There was a lot of confusion with what was going on. But I think it was a day with a lot of decisions that were questionable.”



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