Football: Amoruso full of praise for Dallas

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The Independent Online
LORENZO AMORUSO, the Rangers captain, met with Saturday's Scottish Cup final referee Hugh Dallas last Friday - but Celtic-minded conspiracy theorists have no reason to panic, writes Simon Stone.

The Italian defender joined his colleagues Neil McCann and Colin Hendry alongside the Celtic trio of Tom Boyd, Jonathan Gould and Tosh McKinlay in the company of Dallas and Scottish Football Association officials for a Hampden Park briefing.

Amoruso has heard that Glasgow bookmakers are offering shorter odds on Dallas, a FIFA referee, awarding the first of any penalties to Rangers at Hampden Park on Saturday. The Motherwell official incurred the wrath of the Parkhead faithful during the controversial Premier League fixture on 2 May when he ordered off Stephane Mahe for dissent and awarded a spot kick for a Vidar Riseth challenge on Tony Vidmar during the opening half.

During a hostile afternoon as Rangers sealed the title on enemy soil with a 3-0 win, Dallas was struck by a coin and several fans rushed onto the field to attack him. Amoruso is keen to stress, though, that if Dallas makes any errors at the weekend they will be honest mistakes - and he believes both teams recognise the man in the middle is of the highest pedigree.

"It is a ridiculous to hear of these odds on penalties because Hugh Dallas is one of the best referees in Europe," Amoruso said. "If Uefa give him the Uefa Cup final, it shows he's a good referee.

"I think he is the kind of referee who will handle the pressure on Saturday, because if you have been in charge of a Uefa Cup final you should not have any problems. I think the fact is that people always blame the referee if they lose, but when it comes to it the referee always tries to make the best decision at the time.

"Speaking for myself last season, Willie Young sent me off at Aberdeen and I could say the referee made a mistake, but referees sometimes only get a second to see things and have an idea of what has happened.

"In Italy there are some referees who are fans of certain teams, but they always put that to one side. I might support a team in Italy but if I play against them for Rangers I will want Rangers to win. Every player or referee knows their job and tries to give their maximum in their job, that is why it is stupid to suggest Hugh Dallas will favour any one team."

Amoruso reckons it may well prove that the most disciplined of the two sides will be the one which triumphs at Hampden, but he knows, with Celtic out to deny his team, the treble predictions are futile.

The main criticism levelled against the Ibrox club after their victory at Parkhead was their mock huddle which infuriated the Celtic supporters who remained in the ground. Amoruso clearly feels that too much has been made of that moment, which was in front of the visiting fans after the final whistle, and he appeared reluctant to rule out a repeat performance.

"I think from a Rangers point of view we did a professional job at Parkhead and didn't create any big trouble even with the huddle which I saw Manchester United did at the weekend after the FA Cup final," the Italian said. "The Celtic fans view that as their own, but at Rangers we didn't do the huddle to laugh at Celtic, we were just enjoying the moment of winning the league at Parkhead for the first time. Whether we do it again depends on how we feel, if we win the Cup we will want to celebrate on the pitch and you cannot always say what you will do."