Celtic manager Neil Lennon escapes charge for claim of referee is 'pro-Juventus'
Lennon was angry with Spanish official who controversially chose to ignore the endless series of shirt-pulling and grappling
Neil Lennon will not face a Uefa charge for calling the referee Alberto Mallenco "pro Juventus" in the immediate aftermath of defeat in the Champions League first leg tie on Tuesday night.
He will, however, have to address a row between two of his own players, after Kris Commons criticised Efe Ambrose for declaring he was fit to play after flying back from the African Cup of Nations on the day of the game.
Lennon's own anger was directed at Mallenco, the Spanish official who controversially chose to ignore the endless series of shirt-pulling and grappling that took place every time Celtic had a corner or a set-piece. Such goalscoring opportunities were key to Celtic's attempt to pull off another shock. That they were denied infuriated Lennon.
"I thought he was poor," he had said. "I thought he was very pro-Juventus. I was disappointed with his performance to say the least. They were being fouled at every occasion. The referee is looking at it. They were putting their arms around players, blocking their runs, trying to pull them down. The game must be different in Spain and in Italy from what it is in Britain because you cannot do that in the penalty box because it is a penalty."
Uefa however does not feel there is a case for the 41-year-old to answer and that will at least offer a very small dose of comfort. There will be no injury to go with the insult.
Lennon will have to deal with Commons' comments about Ambrose. The central defender erred twice during the 3-0 defeat to Juventus, and his team-mate claims he should not have made himself available to play. "If he wasn't feeling OK then he should have said so," said Commons. "If he felt good then he should have put in a better performance. The manager picked him. The manager pulled him to one side and asked him if he was feeling OK. He said he was feeling brilliant.
"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. There are certain individuals who let the team down. Hopefully this is a one-off. 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."
Commons also added to the criticism of Mallenco. "He said if they did it again we would get a penalty," added Commons. "That was in the first half. The whole idea of the official behind the line was to look out for this kind of stuff, and if he can't identify when people are being hauled, man-handled or wrestled to the floor, I don't think he should be in a job. The referee 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."
Juve's Stephan Lichtsteiner was booked for his attempt to move Gary Hooper away from his goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon. He was unrepentant. "It's normal," said the Juventus defender. "It is part of football."
Holding: What Fifa law says
Holding an opponent includes pre venting him moving past or around using the hand, arms or body. Referees are reminded to make an early intervention and deal firmly with hold ing offences, especially inside the area at corners and free-kicks.
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