Hibs v Rangers: Pundits' verdict on Willie Collum's four big calls at Easter Road
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The straight red shown to Alfredo Morelos for swinging an elbow towards Marijan Cabraja was a decision all but one pundit thought was an easy decision.
But all the experts and both managers reckon Rangers midfielder John Lundstram should have been booked rather than sent off for his cynical foul on Martin Boyle.
Bushiri penalty claim
Some pundits thought Hibs should have been awarded a penalty for Connor Goldson’s shirt grab and two arms round Rocky Bushiri when contesting a high ball in the box. But not all.
Former Rangers Kris Boyd insisted: “Paul Hanlon is on James Tavernier’s back, so he is pulling him back. When you have contact, everybody is going to go back. For me, no penalty.”
James McFadden reckoned it should have been a spot kick and injured Hibs winger Aiden McGeady, who was in the Sky Sports studio, agreed. “I think it is a penalty,” he said.
Former Hibs midfielder Michael Stewart said on BBC Sportsound: “Tavernier has a grip of Rocky Bushiri’s jersey, but for me that is not a penalty. Paul Hanlon is on Tavernier’s back. They are all challenging for the ball. But you could make a chase that it’s a penalty kick. You absolutely could.”
Perhaps the most debatable of Collum’s big calls, however, was the Rangers penalty given against Bushiri for a grab on Antonio Colak as the striker attempted to close down a Ryan Porteous pass back to David Marshall. Contact was minimal, but the Rangers striker hit the turf to give Collum a decision to make. The pundits all saw it differently.
Michael Stewart, the former Hibs midfielder, said on BBC Sportsound: “For me it is not a penalty kick. I don’t think what Rocky Bushiri has done is enough for Colak to go down.
“But it is an absolute moment of madness from Bushiri. I think he puts two hands on him, which is crazy because there's no way that Colak is getting near the ball. Bushiri has given Willie Collum the opportunity, and we all know how much he likes to make big decisions.”
Neil McCann, the former Rangers winger, thought Bushiri was lucky not to be sent off.
He said on BBC Sportsound: “That is mental from Bushiri. Crazy decision. A centre-back doing that in the last minute of the half is a moment of absolute madness.”
James McFadden and Kris Boyd on Sky Sports both agreed that it was a spot kick. Boyd even reckoned Bushiri should have seen red.
He said: “I just don't know what's going through Rocky Bushiri's mind to pull Antonio Colak back. There's no debate it is a penalty, the next debate is if it's a red card."
McGeady also agreed with Collum’s decision and criticised his teammate. "I think it is a penalty,” he said. “I’m not sure what Rocky is doing because Colak isn’t going to get on the end of the ball. It is going safely back to Marsh. I’m just confused as to what Rocky was doing."
But Tom English, BBC Scotland's chief sports writer, was far from convinced. He reckoned: “Is the force applied by Bushiri enough to warrant Colak doing what he did? Absolutely not. At every set-piece you will see more contact than that.”
Morelos red card
As for the red cards, there was little debate about Morelos on Cabraja – other than Andy Walker, who reckoned on first viewing that it was a soft one.
The former Celtic striker said on Sky Sports: “That, to me, is not serious foul play. It is not violent conduct. It is not a red card. Maybe it is the raising of the arm that is violent conduct. It is more of a slap. I don’t see it as an elbow. I think Morelos' reputation went before him there."
But former Rangers winger Neil McCann, speaking on BBC Sportsound said: “Morelos is smiling away. I don't know what he's smiling about if he's elbowed the boy in the face because it's crazy. Porteous and Bushiri are on yellows, I thought Morelos could ruffle their feathers. A straight red for Morelos is ridiculous. He's let his side down massively.”
Boyd agreed. He added: “There is no doubt this one is a red card. It is not the first one when he puts his arm up to back in. It is the second one. It is a swinging motion and he catches Cabraja in the throat area. It is the second phase. I don’t think Morelos can have any complaints.”
Lundstram red card
Nobody thought Lundram’s foul on Boyle, a cynical and deliberate one designed to stop the Hibs forward from charging clear on a counter-attack, merited a red card for serious foul play.
McCann said: “I'm not sure about the red card. It's cynical. It's absolutely a yellow card, unless Lundstram has raked Boyle down the Achilles. It's whether it's endangering the opponent. It has to be the studs in order for it to be a red card.”
McFadden added: “He does lunge in to clip him. I don’t see excessive force. I don't see him endangering Martin Byle.”
McGeady agreed, adding: “I thought it was harsh. It is a cynical foul and an annoying foul from our point of view. But I don’t think that justifies a red card.”