After much trumpeting and heralding of further great victories in the Champions League, Celtic were found out last night by a ruthless Juventus team that refused to be intimidated by a hostile Scottish crowd at Parkhead Stadium, Glasgow. In a match that had been billed as the next great step in the revival of Scottish teams in Europe, we were treated to a return to form by Celtic. As all the great managers will tell you, hard work and effort will only get you so far in football. Somewhere along the line, the skill factor will supersede the efforts of players with inferior skills. That was the obvious conclusion last night as Celtic were crushed 3-0 on their own ground.
Today, in the aftermath of a massacre, it fell to coach Lennon to make the usual disparaging comments about the referee. His comments, which were faithfully repeated by Sky Sports, referred to the constant jockeying between Celtic`s strikers and the Juventus defence. The Spanish referee saw nothing wrong with the Juventus` defenders constantly protecting their goalkeeper from being blocked off by the Celtic strikers. Of course, there exists a huge gulf between how this type of tactic is viewed by officials from Europe to those from the UK. This has led to problems in the past, when this type of tactic is employed by British teams abroad.
Goalkeepers are protected from these tactics, enshrined in the laws of the game. However, the British media will refer to the holding of players in the penalty area. The actual point is that the goalkeeper is entitled to not be blocked off by an opposing player. That is an offence. It takes precedence over any subsequent events. The Juventus defenders quite rightly pushed the Celtic strikers away from their goalkeeper to stop them from impeding his ability to move. Unfortunately, British referees seem to want to allow this infringement and it is this which is the cause of much consternation when British teams play European teams.
At the end of the day, Celtic were comprehensively beaten by the better team on their own ground, end of story. It is unfortunate that Neil Lennon always seems to feel unable to show any good grace when his team loses. His disparagement of something that is unattainable is a constant source of disappointment to those who want to see good play rewarded and acknowledged.