Rangers may have temporarily returned to the top of the table yesterday in Scotland, but their win against Aberdeen at Ibrox was not without a large helping of controversy.
The match was spoiled by two first half dismissals from referee Stuart Dougal. Aberdeen’s Charlie Mulgrew the first to see red before Madjid Bougherra of Rangers was sent for an early bath, with fans of each side left spitting fire as both decisions were highly dubious. Of the two, however, sympathy was more widespread for Mulgrew after Rangers’ Kyle Lafferty, the villain of the hour, was clearly caught on camera simulating a headbutt, even though no contact was made.
The incident arrived in the 18 minute. After a coming together on the touchline between Mulgrew and Lafferty, the pair squared up to each other with both parties looking to stand-their-ground while staring their opponent down. As the face-off materialised, Lafferty inched his face closer and closer towards Mulgrew, who responded with a jerk of the head towards the Rangers number 27.
Without question Mulgrew’s motion was without contact. But, despite that trivial detail, Lafferty threw himself to the floor with both hands clutching his face in a blatant attempt to cheat the ref into believing an assault had occurred. With the officials seemingly all failing to get a good look at what actually happened, poor Mulgrew was then shown the straight red.
At halftime, former bruiser John Hartson gave his straight-talking opinon to Setanta, calling Lafferty “a disgrace. Kyle Lafferty should be ashamed of himself… He has conned the ref. Conned half the crowd… he should be ashamed of himself. He has gone down in my estimation big-time.”
Continuing the discussion with fellow talking-head Mark Hateley, the former strikers assessed the second red card of the match against Madjid Bougherra, for sliding into visiting keeper Jamie Langfield when trying to get a toe onto a loose ball in the box. Both pundits were convinced that Bougherra had no intent to do harm on the goalie, with Hartson arguing that “if Stuart Dougal had pulled out a yellow I don’t think that any of us would have had real complaints.”
John Hartson’s and Mark Hateley’s analysis of both red card incidents can be seen here.