Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara insisted it could all have been so different had Scott Brown been punished for the challenge that kicked off the Scottish Cup stramash.
United will be appealing against the red card shown to innocent midfielder Paul Paton, who was sent packing along with Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk in the aftermath of the great Tannadice melee.
McNamara felt referee Craig Thomson could have avoided all the other stuff had he punished Brown for the initial tackle on Tangerines’ striker Nadir Ciftci.
“Paul feels a bit hard done for being sent off for nothing,” said the United boss.
“He wasn’t involved in the incident.
“For me, I think the referee should have dealt with the original challenge.
“I thought it was a bad challenge which sparked the whole thing off and it went unnoticed.
“I thought it was a two-footed challenge off the deck.
“It was a bad one but it didn’t get dealt with properly.
“When Nadir gets tackled by Brown, the ball breaks and Calum Butcher wins the challenge to put us through, so I am looking at that next bit.
“I did not see what happens after that with Van Dijk, Butcher or anyone else. It is a separate incident.
“But to be honest, we should be talking about the football rather than the ugly scenes.
“For me the officials should have dealt with it first and we would not have had the problems.”
All the controversy aside, McNamara was rightly happy with a dogged display from his nine men to keep themselves in the cup and show that they can be a match for Celtic ahead of Sunday’s League Cup final.
“I think we can take certain things from it but I am sure Celtic can say the same,” he added.
“Today was difficult but it was a good thing we worked on waves of attack this week, although I didn’t anticipate playing with nine men!
“We need cool heads for Sunday now.
“What happened today should not impact on next week, though.
“It is a chance for silverware and the chance for the lads to create a bit of history.”
Celtic manager Ronny Deila claimed that Aidan Connolly conned the ref for the penalty that was scored by Nadir Ciftci just before the break to put the hosts 1-0 up.
The Parkhead gaffer wants the United player punished, saying: “It is a dive and hopefully it will be the same rules for everybody.
“We are the only team this season in the league to have a suspension for diving, for Derk Boerrigter, and I said at the time that it was no problem because that is the line that will be taken by everyone.”
However, McNamara defended his player, saying: “I don’t think he dived.
“I think he (Anthony Stokes) has caught him, although he hasn’t caught him on the leg.
“He has jinked past Nir Bitton and Stokes has come in and it has been thigh-on-thigh and Aidan has gone down as he got in front of him.”