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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Vialli: Celtic deserved penalties

Kevin Palmer and ESPN staff

Ex-Juventus captain Gianluca Vialli believes Celtic should have been awarded penalty kicks during Tuesday night's 3-0 home defeat to Juventus.

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Celtic captain Scott Brown and striker Gary Hooper were manhandled in the penalty box as Juventus employed rugby-style tackling methods in a bid to halt the Scottish champions from exploiting set-pieces, with manager Neil Lennon saying after the game that the referee was "very pro-Juventus".

Vialli agrees that the match officials were lenient in their decision making during the Champions League last-16 first leg at Parkhead.

"There were definitely some situations that should have seen Celtic awarded penalty kicks," Vialli told talkSPORT. "It is a thin line in what you can do and what you can't do and Juventus went too far in this game.

"The defenders can be clever and use everything within the laws of the game to stop the strikers scoring goals and, while some pulling is allowed, you need to be clever. Against Celtic, in my opinion, Juventus took this too far."

Vialli, who was a Champions League winner with Juventus back in 1996, suggested the controversy over the officiating at Parkhead has not created much of a stir in the Italian media as their focus has been on the progress of a Juventus side he suggests could now reach the final at Wembley in May.

"We all thought the Juventus performance was terrific," the former Chelsea manager added. "Celtic were worthy opponents and played at a high tempo, but Juventus exposed the weaknesses in the Celtic defence and defended very well themselves, without panicking.

"I would say 3-0 is not a fair result on the balance of the game, but Juventus came on very strong at the end and there has to be a chance now that they can get to the final.

"Juventus did not start too well after the Christmas break in Italy, but that may be because they were a long way ahead in the title race and didn't have the pressure they needed. Having someone breathing on your neck can be good for you. Under pressure, they perform well."

Celtic midfielder Kris Commons, meanwhile, has said "certain individuals let the team down" and singled Efe Ambrose out for particular criticism.

Celtic enjoyed the lion's share of possession and had significantly more efforts on goal on Tuesday, but Juve scored from three of their four shots on target.

"It was just very sloppy individual mistakes - something you'd probably get away with on a playground, not in the last 16 of the Champions League," Commons told journalists after the match. "There are certain individuals who let the team down."

The first goal, scored by Alessandro Matri after three minutes, came after an error from Ambrose, who also failed to equalise when presented with a free header and lost possession to allow Mirko Vucinic to score the third goal.

Commons believes the Nigeria international - who only returned from African Nations Cup duty on the morning of the game - must take the blame.

"Look, the manager picked him," he said. "The manager pulled him to one side and asked him if he was feeling okay. He said he was feeling brilliant. If he wasn't feeling okay then he should have said so. If he felt good then he should have put in a better performance."

He did accept, however, that the Bhoys' presence in the second round owed much to good defensive work in the first round, when they finished second in a group containing Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow.

"Hopefully this is just a one-off," he added. "The back four have made errors which have probably cost us the tie, but it's partly down to them why we're here in the first place. It's just a bitter one to swallow."

Commons also shared the view that Celtic were not given adequate protection by the officials.

"Gary Hooper was pulled down to the ground on far too many occasions and we got no rewards," Commons added. "You've got a referee there, a guy behind the goal, a linesman - the whole idea of the official behind the goal is to look out for this sort of stuff.

"If he can't identify when people are being hauled, manhandled, wrestled to the floor, then I don't think he should be in a job. He's 10 or 15 yards away and if it was a clear foul, it should have been a penalty.

"He said if you do it again they'll get a penalty - that was in the first half. He kept stopping it and booking people and telling people to stop it. It clearly had no effect because right up until the 91st minute when we had a corner, it was still going on."




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