Neil Lennon believes that the Celtic players didn’t get enough protection from last night’s referee.

The Hoops overcame Sarajevo 2-1 in what became, in the end, a fairly feisty encounter. The Bosnians, just like in the first leg, were making sure they got the boot into the Celtic players with some over-the-top slices. Ryan Christie and James Forrest were two of the main victims of the overzealous Sarajevo stars.

Meanwhile, referee Alain Durieux was happy to often let them away with it. He produced five yellow cards on the night to our Bosnian foes, but even that was lenient in amongst some of the aggressiveness shown.

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Celtic weren’t given much protection from the referee (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Speaking to the Scottish Sun, however, Lennon claimed that Sarajevo were “agricultural” in their physicality.

“They were a bit agricultural to say the least. At least one of them warranted a red card.

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“At this level, referees sometimes see the game a little bit differently to us. That’s what I’ve learned. You’re better off saying nothing and letting it be.

 

“But the last thing you want at this stage is any long term injuries or any kind of injury. There will be a few bumps and bruises tomorrow but hopefully nothing significant.”

Something Celtic players will have to get used to

There’s no denying that Sarajevo had every right to try and stop us playing however they saw fit. Whether that was making niggly fouls or continuously pulling back and tugging the jersey of Celtic stars was their prerogative.

Celtic had too much quality for Sarajevo on the night (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

But at the same time, it isn’t acceptable just how over-the-top the Bosnian champions were. We’re fortunate we managed to come out of that contest with no real injuries reported early on.

Sarajevo weren’t being discreet. They weren’t just tripping up our players, obstructing them, and pulling them back. They were making wild lunges and taking ridiculous swipes that could’ve seen us have several casualties.

Lennon must’ve been frustrated with last night’s challenges (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Only luck stopped us from not having any. Lennon’s comments about referees seeing the game differently can be flipped, however. Last season, Jeremy Toljan was sent off in Valencia for two challenges, neither of which were over the top. Then you have referees like yesterday and last week who show far too much leniency.

It will be interesting to see what the referee is like during the first leg against Nomme Kalju next week. They’re huge underdogs for the tie, and will look to make things as frustrating as possible for Lennon’s men. Hopefully, however, they don’t endanger our players with the same level of physicality as Sarajevo did.

 

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