GLASGOW: Celtic are to seek “clarification” from UEFA regarding referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco’s performance in the 3-0 Champions League defeat by Juventus, manager Neil Lennon revealed yesterday.
Lennon was scathing about the performance of the Spanish match official immediately after Tuesday’s last-16, first-leg loss at Parkead, a defeat that rendered the return leg in Turin all but redundant.
And the Hoops boss repeated those comments Friday during what was meant to be a news conference previewing Saturday’s Scottish Premier League match at home to Dundee United.
Scottish champions Celtic were furious at the way Juventus defenders repeatedly manhandled their strikers at corners without any punishment and Lennon said Friday the club would take up the matter with European football’s governing body.
“The referee didn’t do his job and there has been a lot of talk since Tuesday night regarding it, so we are looking for clarification on the referee’s decisions during the game,” Lennon said.
“We are going to compile a DVD and send it to them (UEFA) and wait and see what answers we do get. We needed a strong referee and we didn’t have that.
“It was blatant. I have seen photographs where the shirt was almost pulled off Gary Hooper’s back and he ends up in the goal at one stage.
“I admire Gary for keeping his cool, if it had been me I might have got sent off for something I would have regretted later on.
“Gianluca Vialli (former Juventus captain) said we should have had two penalties, Graham Poll and Dermot Gallagher (former referees)...Trevor Francis said that even in his time playing in the ‘80s (in Italy) it was never as blatant as what he saw the other night, so these guys can’t all be wrong and the referee right.” Meanwhile, Lennon stood by his decision to play Efe Ambrose, who only returned to Glasgow early on Tuesday following Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations final win over Burkina Faso on Sunday.
Ambrose was at fault for two of Juventus’s goals and former Celtic captain Lennon said the defender had apologized to him for his performance.
“On reflection, if I had the opportunity to change anything I wouldn’t, I would go with the same team,” said the Northern Irishman.
“Efe made two basic mistakes but he had the clear-cut chance of the game for us and if he had scored then no one would have been talking about his selection,” Lennon added.
“I spoke to him and he said he was ready to play.
“When you make basic mistakes like Efe did then you are open to criticism and he has apologized for his performance.
“However, he has been a fantastic signing. He has added a new dimension to the way we play and some of his performances in the Champions League this season have been of an exceptionally high standard and so he doesn’t need to apologize, we all have bad nights.” After the game Celtic midfielder Kris Commons specifically berated Ambrose, saying: “If he felt good then he should have put in a better performance.” “It was heat of the moment stuff,” Lennon said Friday.
“I have spoken to Kris about it and it has been dealt with internally, and there is no bad feeling from anyone.
“Kris really cares and he was disappointed but he did overstep the line a little bit. Sometimes you have to keep your emotions in check.”