SEETHING Brendan Rodgers accused Ross County’s Alex Schalk of “blatant cheating” as Celtic were denied victory in the 2-2 draw at Dingwall this afternoon.
The champions were leading 2-1 when Schalk dived in the box in the 87th minute with no contact from Erik Sviatchenko and Liam Boyce slotted home the penalty to secure the draw.
A frustrated Scott Brown then slid in late on Boyce moments later and was shown a straight red card meaning he faces suspension for next weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers.
Rodgers said: “I’ve seen some really bad decisions since I’ve come up here from referees and officials, but I’ve got to say that was the worst one I’ve seen.
“Erik is nowhere near even touching (Schalk) and the referee’s in a great position and so is the linesman.
“For him to give a penalty for that is absolutely incredible. That is blatant cheating and it’s an awful decision.”
Brown caught Boyce with a tackle deep in the County half in the final moments of the game and his manager believes his captain had allowed his frustration to get the better of him.
He said: “Scott was a bit late and a bit frustrated with the referee and he’s gone in for the ball and been late.
“But I think the talking point of the game is the penalty and it has cost us the win.
“We obviously wanted to win the game, but the good things is we have given some players some game time.
“Tom Rogic got some game time, Leigh Griffiths and Cristian Gamboa came in and Moussa Dembele got a start for the first time in a while.”
County boss Jim McIntyre admitted his side had been fortunate with the late spot-kick.
He said: “It’s not a penalty and I can fully understand Celtic’s anger and disappointment.”
Kieran Tierney gave Celtic a half-time lead, but that was wiped out by Michael Gardyne’s header in the 50th minute.
Substitute Patrick Roberts restored the visitors’ advantage with a slick solo effort, but then came Robertson’s remarkable decision to award the Highlanders a penalty-kick and the end of the game descended into chaos.