Scottish Premiership: Willie Collum to referee Motherwell v Rangers

Willie Collum will take charge of Saturday’s lunchtime encounter at Fir Park, with Bobby Madden appointed to Celtic’s televised match against Hearts on Sunday.

willie-collum-referee-albion-rovers-v-celtic-22nd-jan-2017
Solid: Collum issued just one yellow card and was on top of proceedings during Celtic’s 3-0 Scottish Cup win at Albion Rovers last weekend (Picture from Sky Sports)

WILLIE Collum will be the referee for Rangers’ televised Scottish Premiership match at Motherwell on Saturday.

The Euro 2016 official, who turned 38 last week, will be in the middle as the Gers make the trip to Fir Park for the lunchtime game live on Sky Sports (KO 12:45 GMT).

He will be assisted by David McGeachie and Gordon Crawford, with Euan Anderson on fourth official duties.

Collum – who won’t have far to travel from his Lanarkshire residence – will oversee his 29th game of the season in all competitions.

He has so far brandished 90 yellow cards, sent off five players and awarded nine penalties.

The Religious Education teacher will have no excuse for taking his eye off the ball after visiting a Specsavers store this week, in recognition of the partnership the opticians share with the Scottish FA.

It will be a 13th top-flight match of the campaign for Collum, who has handled a League Cup Final, two Scottish Cup Finals and the 2015 Uefa Super Cup.

The Glasgow-born whistler will control his fourth Rangers game of the campaign – and first of 2017 – after sending off Philippe Senderos in their 5-1 Old Firm derby defeat at Celtic in September before 1-0 victories at Inverness in October and home to Dundee in November.

Meanwhile, Collum will be in the middle for a third Motherwell match of 2016-17 after their 4-2 derby win over Hamilton in September – in which he awarded the Steelmen a spotkick – and 1-1 draw at St Johnstone last month.

It will be the third time he takes charge of a fixture involving the two sides – after Rangers’ 2-1 win in a League Cup semi-final at Hampden in 2011 and a goalless draw at Ibrox in the league in 2012, both of which passed without major incident.

Mark Warburton’s second-placed Rangers will be looking to extend the gap over Aberdeen in third, which currently stands at two points, while Mark McGhee’s Motherwell could move into the top six with a first top-flight win over the Gers since December 2002.

The sides met as recently as last weekend as Kenny Miller scored twice for Rangers, who came from behind to beat the Steelmen in their Scottish Cup fourth round tie at Ibrox.


Madden gets another top-flight test

Bobby Madden in action
Well-known: Madden has established himself as a referee domestically in the Scottish top-flight and on the European stage in the Europa League (Picture from Sky Sports)

Bobby Madden will take charge of Celtic’s televised encounter with Hearts on Sunday.

The 38-year-old will be in the middle when the champions host the Jambos at Parkhead in front of the Sky cameras (KO 13:00 GMT).

His assistants will be Graham Chambers and Stephen Mitchell, while Greg Aitken will be on fourth official duties.

Madden was also in the middle for a 3-1 Celtic win over Hearts last season in his only other experience of a fixture between the sides.

He enjoyed a largely quiet display but booked six players and sent off Hearts defender Juwon Oshaniwa late on for a second yellow card.

It will only be the 18th game Madden will have officiated this season, after missing two months as he bravely battled thyroid cancer.

Overall, he has dished out 48 yellow cards, two red cards and pointed to the penalty spot 11 times in his 17 matches so far.

The East Kilbride whistler, who was an additional assistant referee at Euro 2016, will handle his third Celtic game of the campaign after their 4-1 win over 10-man Aberdeen in August and 2-1 success against Dundee in December – both also at Celtic Park.

His only Hearts match so far was their 3-0 victory over Motherwell at Tynecastle in November – in which only two players were cautioned.

Madden’s biggest career honour to date came in Celtic’s 2-0 win over 10-man Dundee United in the 2015 League Cup showpiece at Hampden Park.

Both sides were in action in midweek – with Hearts beating Raith Rovers 4-2 after extra time in a Scottish Cup replay, while Celtic edged past St Johnstone 1-0 in their game in hand in the league.

You can see the rest of the SPFL appointments for this weekend here.

Craig Thomson to referee Rangers v Celtic Scottish Cup semi-final

Referees Craig Thomson and John Beaton will take charge of the Scottish Cup semi-finals at Hampden Park later this month, with the help of additional assistants.

Craig Thomson referee
Veteran: Thomson will oversee his third Scottish Cup semi-final and 12th Old Firm derby (Picture from Sky Sports)

CRAIG Thomson has been confirmed as the referee for the Scottish Cup semi-final between Rangers and Celtic on Sunday, April 17.

The 43-year-old will take charge of the eagerly-awaited Old Firm clash between the Glasgow rivals at Hampden Park (KO 12:00 BST).

He will be assisted by linesmen Alan Mulvanny and Douglas Ross, fourth official Bobby Madden and additional assistant referees Kevin Clancy and Don Robertson.

Thomson also officiated the League Cup semi-final last season which was the first meeting between the sides in three years, when Celtic won 2-0 in a largely incident-free encounter.

The longest-serving of the current crop of Scottish officials, he has a wealth of experience having handled 11 previous Old Firm derbies, with the first coming in April 2006.

Those past encounters include the 2011 League Cup Final at the national stadium in which the Paisley lawyer dismissed Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre for a professional foul and overturned a penalty given to the Gers, who won 2-1 after extra time.

It will be his 16th domestic match at Hampden Park and ninth cup semi-final – a first in the Scottish Cup since Celtic’s 4-3 win over Dundee United in 2013.

Thomson – who has handled three Scottish Cup and three League Cup finals – was in the middle for Celtic’s 3-1 League Cup semi defeat by Ross County in January, in which he sent off Efe Ambrose early on.

The Renfrewshire whistler – who was overlooked for Euro 2016, with Willie Collum preferred instead – has awarded more penalties (17) than any other Scottish official so far this season.

He has also distributed an astonishing 149 yellow cards – and eight reds – in 37 matches in all competitions.

It will be the seventh time that Thomson oversees Celtic this term, while he has only encountered Rangers in their 4-1 Championship win over Livingston in January when he awarded them two penalties.

Craig Thomson's 2015-16 record so far
Statistics: How Thomson’s 2015-16 campaign has shaped up so far (Picture from Transfermarkt.com)


John Beaton speaks with Hibernian's Fraser Fyvie against Rangers
In control: Beaton was the man in the middle for Hibs’ 2-1 win over Rangers on November 1 at Easter Road (Picture from Sky Sports)

Meanwhile, John Beaton will take charge of the other semi-final between Hibernian and Dundee United.

He will be in the middle as Championship side Hibs tussle with the Premiership’s bottom club at the national stadium on Saturday, April 16 (KO 12:15 BST).

Beaton will be working alongside Graham Chambers and Stuart Stevenson, with Euan Anderson the fourth official – as he was for a League Cup semi in January. The goal-line officials are Andrew Dallas and Alan Muir.

Incidentally, Muir was behind the goal in the Scottish Cup semi 12 months ago when a handball on the line by Inverness’ Josh Meekings went unspotted in their controversial 3-2 extra-time win over Celtic.

Beaton was also involved in last year’s semi-finals as referee for Hibernian’s 1-0 defeat by fellow Championship side Falkirk.

He was also the fourth official when Hibs beat Falkirk 4-3 in the Scottish Cup semis in 2013 but ended up refereeing the extra-time period after Iain Brines came off injured.

Beaton oversaw a League Cup semi-final in 2014, sending off two Inverness players as Caley Thistle beat Hearts on penalties at Hibs’ Easter Road stadium.

It will be the fifth time that the Lanarkshire whistler will oversee both Dundee United and Hearts in all competitions this term.

The 34-year-old was in the middle for the 2015 Challenge Cup Final – his only major final to date – but was fourth official for the 2014 League Cup Final and an additional assistant for the 2013 Scottish Cup Final.

Beaton will also be going to Euro 2016 as a goal-line official as part of Willie Collum’s team of officials for the summer tournament in France.

John Beaton's 2015-16 record so far
Record: How Beaton’s busy season has panned out to date (Picture from Transfermarkt.com)

Thomson and Beaton handled both Edinburgh derby meetings between Hibs and Hearts in the quarter-finals, with Beaton sending off two players in the Easter Road replay which Hibs won 1-0.

Two-time winners Hibs have not lifted the Scottish Cup since 1902 as they bid to reach their second major cup final of the season after losing 2-1 to Ross County in the League Cup showpiece last month.

Dundee United have also won the competition twice but were runners-up in 2014 after losing 2-0 to St Johnstone in the final at Celtic Park. They last reached the semi stage three years ago.

Rangers – who have not won the Scottish Cup since 2009 – have secured promotion to the Scottish Premiership in boss Mark Warburton’s debut season to ensure the Old Firm derby returns to the top-flight next season.

Premiership leaders Celtic are bidding to reach their first Scottish Cup final since 2013 in Ronny Deila’s second campaign in charge.

Both ties will be screened live on Sky Sports, while Hibs v Dundee United will also be shown on BBC Scotland.

Referee Nick Walsh set for first Scottish Premiership game

Referee Nick Walsh will take charge of his first Scottish Premiership match in Dingwall this weekend in only his third season as a senior official.

Nick Walsh in action (Hibernian v Alloa)
Card happy: Only Craig Thomson has handed out more cards this season in Scotland than Nick Walsh (Picture from Sky Sports)

REFEREE Nick Walsh is set for the biggest game of his short officiating career so far after being appointed to his first match in the Scottish Premiership.

The 30-year-old is only in his third season as a senior official but has been chosen by the SPFL to take charge of Ross County v Partick Thistle at the Global Energy Stadium on Saturday (KO 15:00 BST).

Walsh – a Category One Development official from Stirling – has issued the most red cards among Scotland’s referees this season with 12 in 27 matches in all competitions.

The last of which came in his most recent match on March 26 to Livingston’s Jackson Longridge late on in their surprise 2-1 win at Falkirk2-1 win at Falkirk in the Championship.

Walsh has handled nine second-tier matches, all of which have been this season and two were televised.

He has also overseen 10 in League One and three in League Two in 2015-16 but has experienced the top-flight as fourth official for seven Premiership games – including Celtic’s 3-1 win over Hearts last weekend.

In February, the Glasgow-born whistler was in charge of an U17 International Challenge Match between Scotland and Iceland at Morton’s Cappielow.

He will be ably assisted in Dingwall by the experienced Graham Chambers and Alan Mulvanny and fourth official Kevin Graham, while Alan Freeland will keep an eager eye on proceedings as his observer.

With the sides seventh and eighth respectively, there is a lot riding on this final game before the split as both can still realistically finish in the top six – so Walsh will be under pressure to perform.

He will certainly want to stay under the radar but impress enough to show he is worthy of future Premiership games and, maybe, promotion to Category One status.

Referee Bobby Madden set for Celtic v Hearts

Bobby Madden will take charge of leaders Celtic’s Scottish Premiership encounter with third-placed Hearts in Saturday’s televised lunchtime kick-off.

Referee Bobby Madden issues a yellow card
Acquaintances: It will be the 11th occasion that Madden handles a league game involving either Celtic or Hearts this season (Picture from Sky Sports)

BOBBY Madden has been confirmed as the referee for Celtic’s televised Scottish Premiership encounter with Hearts on Saturday.

The 37-year-old will oversee the first top-flight game since the international break when the leaders host the third-placed side in the lunchtime kick-off (12:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).

He will be assisted by Graham Chambers and Graeme Leslie, while Nick Walsh is the fourth official at Celtic Park.

Lanarkshire-based Madden will take charge of his fourth Celtic game of the season and his seventh involving Hearts.

He was in the middle for the champions’ goalless draw with Kilmarnock in November and 2-1 defeat by Motherwell in December – both at home – as well as their 4-1 win at bottom-club Dundee United in January.

Meanwhile, Madden has handled Hearts’ 2-1 win at Ross County in August, 3-1 defeat by Aberdeen in September, 2-0 win over Hamilton in November, 3-2 win over Dundee United in December, goalless draw at Hamilton in January and 1-0 victory over Partick Thistle on March 5.

Overall, he has overseen 31 games in all competitions so far this season – issuing 107 yellow cards, sent off nine players and awarded nine penalties.

Bobby Madden's record in 2015-16 to date
Record: How Bobby Madden’s season has fared to date, with eight of his games being shown live on TV (Picture from Transfermarkt.com)

It will be the first time Madden will take charge of a fixture between the two sides who have enjoyed a long-running Scottish football feud in what is always an eagerly-awaited fixture on the calendar.

The previous three encounters this term – two draws in the league and Celtic’s League Cup win at Tynecastle in October – were officiated by fellow Fifa officials Steven McLean, John Beaton and Kevin Clancy.

Madden’s most recent appointment was in the top-flight in the Highland derby a fortnight ago as he handed out four bookings in Inverness’s 3-0 win over Ross County in Dingwall.

Last month, the East Kilbride-born official was named as an additional assistant referee as part of Willie Collum’s team of officials for the Euro 2016 tournament in France in the summer.

Bobby Madden looks on
Seeing red: Madden dismissed Hearts defender Igor Rossi in the stalemate at New Douglas Park on January 24 (Picture from Sky Sports)

It’s been a busy campaign for Madden, who has received 18 Premiership matches and is in contention for a third domestic cup semi-final of his career in the Scottish Cup in April.

His season highlights include five Europa League matches, a Euro 2016 qualifier between Russia and Liechtenstein, and the Petrofac Training Cup semi-final between Rangers and St Mirren at Ibrox.

His biggest achievement to date came a year ago when receiving the honour of officiating his first major final in the League Cup at Hampden Park and sent off Dundee United captain Sean Dillon in their 2-0 defeat by Celtic.

Bobby Madden is the man in the middle
On the continent: Madden has been on the Fifa list of international referees since 2010 (Picture from BBC Scotland)

Madden has also handled Premiership play-off final first leg ties in each of the last two seasons.

Domestically, he was promoted to Category One in 2009 and has built up a wealth of experience and respect to become a Scottish top-flight regular since his first match in January 2011.

Madden first took up the whistle in 2002 and last year revealed that an advert in the East Kilbride News – spotted by his brother Jamie – inspired him to become involved in refereeing after realising he wouldn’t make the grade as a professional player.

Hearts would move to within six points of second-placed Aberdeen if head coach Robbie Neilson can mastermind a first win over the Hoops since the Jambos won 2-1 in April 2012 at Hampden Park in the Scottish Cup semis.

Ronny Deila’s Celtic – closing in on a fifth successive title – could go seven points clear at the top with a third straight league win before the Dons host Hamilton on Sunday.

Kevin Clancy before the 2016 Scottish League Cup Final
Man in charge: Clancy oversaw last month’s League Cup Final between Hibernian and Ross County (Picture from BBC Scotland)

That game at Pittodrie will be officiated by Kevin Clancy, who will also be in the middle for Celtic’s match at Dundee next Tuesday night – both will be screened live on BT Sport.

Meanwhile, Don Robertson will handle Partick Thistle’s home game with Kilmarnock as eighth welcomes 11th to Firhill on Saturday (KO 15:00 BST).

Elsewhere, Euro 2016-bound Collum will oversee a Premiership game for the third successive round of fixtures after missing three weekends to be taken out of the spotlight following a series of controversial decisions.

He will be in the middle for St Johnstone against Dundee United on Saturday and then Hearts’ trip to Inverness on Tuesday night.

Willie Collum to referee 2015 Uefa Super Cup

Scottish referee Willie Collum will take charge of the 2015 Uefa Super Cup between Barcelona and Sevilla in Tbilisi on August 11.

Willie Collum referee (Scottish Cup Final - 30th May 2015)
European experience: Collum has handled several high-profile Champions League matches in the past two seasons (Picture from Sky Sports)

SCOTTISH referee Willie Collum will take charge of the 2015 Uefa Super Cup between Barcelona and Sevilla in Tbilisi on August 11. 

The 36-year-old has been selected by the Uefa Referees Committee to oversee the first major European showpiece of the campaign between the two Spanish sides at the home of the Georgian national team.

He will be assisted at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena by Francis Connor (Scotland) and Damien MacGraith of the Republic of Ireland.

Graham Chambers (Scotland) will be the fourth official while Scottish Premiership referees Bobby Madden and Kevin Clancy – who are often chosen in the middle for Europa League games – will act as additional assistant referees.

34-year-old Irish referee MacGraith, from Mayo, has previously officiated in UEFA Champions League, World Cup qualifiers, UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers and the 2011 UEFA U21 Championships Final between Switzerland and Spain in Denmark.

Barcelona qualified for the game after winning the Champions League for the fifth time with a 3-1 win over Juventus in the final in Berlin while Sevilla secured back-to-back Europa League titles following a 3-2 victory over Ukrainian outfit Dnipro in the Warsaw final.

Last season, Mark Clattenburg led an English team of officials for another all-Spanish Super Cup at the Cardiff City Stadium in South Wales as Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Sevilla.

Willie Collum (Falkirk v Inverness Scottish Cup Final - 30th May 2015)
Red hot: Collum (pictured) sent off four players in his final 10 games last season (Picture from Sky Sports)

The showpiece date serves as a deserved reward for an impressive season on the continent for Collum – who oversaw six Champions League matches last term including the quarter-final second leg between Monaco and Juventus.

He was also in the middle for three Euro 2016 qualifiers as well as some high-profile international friendlies such as Spain against the Netherlands.

Collum has notched up 67 UEFA fixtures since joining the international list in 2006 and – at the age of just 29 – officiated the 2008 UEFA European Under-19 Championship final between Italy and Germany.

But the Super Cup – seen as the traditional curtain-raiser to the European season – will be the biggest game in the refereeing career of the Religious Education teacher from Belshill.

Domestically, the Lanarkshire whistler was in charge of the 2012 League Cup Final at Hampden Park when Celtic surprisingly lost to Kilmarnock, the 2013 Scottish Cup Final between Hibernian and Celtic before returning at the end of last term for the 2015 Scottish Cup showpiece as Inverness beat 10-man Falkirk.

As well as officiating several cup semi-finals, he was also on fourth official duties for the 2011 League Cup Final and 2012 Scottish Cup Final.

John Fleming, Head of Referee Operations at the SFA, said: “On behalf of the Scottish FA, I would like to congratulate William and his team on this fantastic appointment.

“The UEFA Super Cup Final is one of the most prestigious fixtures in European football. Taking charge of this exciting match is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the refereeing team.

“This appointment is great news for Scottish refereeing and I am sure the country will take great pride in seeing five of our officials take to the field in Tbilsi next month.”

Last season, he issued a massive 144 yellow cards, sent off 17 players and awarded 22 penalties across 49 games in all competitions.

during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between FC Bayern Muenchen and FC Shakhtar Donetsk at Allianz Arena on March 11, 2015 in Munich, Germany.
Big call: Collum issued the fastest red card in Champions League history to Shakhtar Donetsk’s Olexandr Kucher after three minutes in their 7-0 defeat at Bayern Munich in March (Picture from Getty Images)

Among his other highlights from 2014-15 included an Edinburgh derby in the Scottish Championship, the Championship play-off final second leg between Alloa and Forfar, 27 Premiership matches, three League Cup ties and three Scottish Cup games including the final.

Collum is widely renowned for issuing plenty of cards in domestic games – despite his reluctance to do so in European outings – and is often the centre of controversy but is regarded as a fit and highly rated official who tends to get the big decisions right.

However, he endured a controversial start to 2015 domestically.

Collum awarded four penalties and sent off four players in his first two matches of the new year but saw the red cards he gave to St Mirren’s Kenny McLean and Motherwell defender Stephen McManus overturned by the Scottish Football Association’s judicial panel.

Collum was then dropped from the Premiership for two weeks before he and assistant referee David McGeachie failed to award a goal when Adam Rooney’s shot struck the underside of the crossbar before bouncing a foot over the line in Aberdeen’s 3-0 win at Hamilton in February.

He was also slammed by Hibernian boss Alan Stubbs in March for failing to spot a foul by Lee Wallace on Paul Hanlon in the build-up to Kenny Miller’s clinching goal for Rangers in their 2-0 win at Easter Road.

Willie Collum referee (Falkirk v Inverness - 30th May 2015)
Number one: Willie Collum, who has took charge of over 200 SPL games, is now seen as Scotland’s leading referee ahead of Craig Thomson (Picture from BBC Scotland)

Glasgow-born Collum – a father to three daughters – first took up the whistle at the age of 14 and has been a Category One official since June 2004.

He was promoted to the Scottish Premier League a year later and was first included on the Fifa list of international referees in 2006 but began regularly officiating in the Europa League and Champions League from the 2010-11 campaign.

On the European front, Collum has been a Uefa Elite Category official since 2012 and – after being handed a Europa League quarter-final in 2013-14 – officiated Bayern Munich, Juventus and Barcelona in the Champions League last term campaign.

He took charge of Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Ajax at the Nou Camp last year and their 4-0 victory over BATE Borisov in December 2011 – both in the group stages – while it will be the first time he encounters Sevilla in any European game.

Collum has surprisingly beat off competition from the likes of Norway’s Svein Oddvar Moen, Serbia’s Milorad Mazic, Italy’s Gianluca Rocchi and Czech Republic’s Pavel Kralovec to land the eagerly-anticipated showdown between the two Spanish sides.

It could be earmarked as a fixture to test Collum’s credentials before the list of 12 referees for the 2016 European Championship finals in France is confirmed in the Autumn.

Here is the social media reaction to his Super Cup selection – and it isn’t very pleasant….

https://twitter.com/Craigy_Bhoy67/status/618462767465529345

 

LAST FIVE SUPER CUP REFEREES:

Jonas Eriksson referee (Real Madrid v Juventus - 13th May 2015)
In charge: The Swedish millionaire was the man in the middle for the 2013 contest at the Eden Arena in Prague (Picture from Sky Sports)

2014:  Mark Clattenburg (England) – Real Madrid 2-0 Sevilla
2013:  Jonas Eriksson (Sweden) – Bayern Munich 2-2 Chelsea (Bayern win 5-4 on penalties)
2012:  Damir Skomina (Slovenia) – Chelsea 1-4 Atletico Madrid
2011:  Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands) – Barcelona 2-0 FC Porto
2010:  Massimo Busacca (Switzerland) – Inter Milan 0-2 Atletico Madrid

Tannadice tie produces controversial cup classic

CELTIC and Dundee United will meet for a fourth time in a fortnight to decide who will face Inverness or Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup semis after a hugely controversial quarter-final at Tannadice ended with honours even.

Red card
Seeing red: Dundee United defender Paul Dixon was given his marching orders for handball in just the third minute of the second period

CELTIC and Dundee United will meet for a fourth time in a fortnight to decide who will face Inverness or Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup semis after a hugely controversial quarter-final at Tannadice ended with honours even.

Three players were sent off and two penalties awarded by referee Craig Thomson in a dramatic contest between the two Scottish Premiership sides, who will also face off in next Sunday’s League Cup Final at Hampden Park.

van Dijk and Paton sent off 10 mins
Two off: Paton receives a red card even though he tried to act as a peacemaker before van Dijk was ordered off for the second time in four games

Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk and United’s Paul Paton – mistakenly sent off instead of team-mate Calum Butcher – were dismissed after just 10 minutes following a major flashpoint which preceded a two-minute conversation between Thomson and his assistant referee Graham Chambers.

Nadir Ciftci – who could also have been sent off for studding Scott Brown in the same incident – netted from the spot in first-half stoppage time after Anthony Stokes was adjudged to have brought down Aidan Connolly.

Outfield save: Dixon's arm is raised as the ball strikes it from Griffiths' shot
Outfield save: Dixon’s arm is raised as the ball strikes it from Griffiths’ shot which led to the third sending off and second penalty of the afternoon

Early in the second half, Paul Dixon was shown red for blocking Leigh Griffiths’ with his arm in the box but United goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak – who was man of the match for a string of splendid saves – kept out Griffiths’ spotkick magnificently.

The striker though made amends to rescue Ronny Deila’s side 20 minutes from time when nodding home an Emilio Izaguirre cross.

Despite being unable to capitalise on having an extra man for a lenghty period of time, the replay – set to be played a week on Wednesday at Parkhead – means Celtic’s treble hopes remain alive.

Head to head Scottish Cup
The record of the previous Scottish Cup meetings (before this one) between the sides – Dundee United have not beaten Celtic in the competition since 1981

Meanwhile, Jackie McNamara’s United – who were runners-up in last season’s competition – produced admirable rearguard action to hold out amid constant Hoops pressure for much of the second half.

Cierzniak had to be in top form with Celtic substitute John Guidetti denied on two occasions by the Polish stopper, who was also alert to thwart efforts from Stokes and Griffiths.

Ciftci was only playing after winning his appeal against a two-match suspension following his clash with Inverness defender Gary Warren last month and played his part in the melee which brought the tie to life in the early minutes.

Paton was one of the first on the scene as it broke out but when it calmed down, referee Thomson – after speaking to the linesman – dismissed Paton and van Dijk, leaving the United player fuming and everyone in the ground somewhat baffled.

That incident aside, the first half was largely a non-spectacle although both sides hit the post – Butcher’s effort brushing off Ryan Dow onto the woodwork before an equally tame shot from Stokes trickled the upright.

Pen incident
Push and shove: Anthony Stokes (no.10) sends Aiden Connolly to the deck although replays showed the contact appeared to be minimal

There was more controversy to come as United got their noses in front before the interval after Stokes was adjudged to have sent Connolly sprawling in the box and Ciftci buried his 12th of the season despite Craig Gordon diving in the right direction.

Celtic had a penalty of their own within three minutes of the restart and United were reduced to nine men as on-loan Huddersfield full-back Dixon received his marching orders for handling Griffiths’ shot – even though it did not seem to be deliberate.

United though were handed a reprieve when Cierzniak made a sensational stop from Griffiths, who raised an apologetic hand to the Celtic fans behind the goal.

Griffiths penalty saved
Missed opportunity: Griffiths couldn’t have done much more with his penalty but Cierzniak made a stunning save to deny him

His 10th goal of the season did arrive just when the Hoops seemed to be frustrated by the massed United ranks inside their own box as the Scot pulled away from Jaroslav Fojut to guide a header into the bottom corner.

Nir Biton and Stefan Johansen tried their luck as a dominant Celtic – seeking to put their midweek defeat at home to St Johnstone behind them – piled everything forward in search of a winner which ultimately proved elusive.

Although the ramifications of the contest will be felt in the coming days, it was a breathtaking opening episode to the series of meetings between the two sides – who locked horns for the first time since the acrimony of Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven’s January deadline day moves to the champions although the duo were cup-tied.

Both will now turn their attention to the Hampden showpiece in seven days’ time before a midweek cup replay and a league encounter in Glasgow the following weekend.

Inverness and Raith Rovers will face each other on Tuesday night after their tie was called off on Saturday because of a waterlogged pitch in the Highlands.

 

TEAMS:

Dundee United XI

Substitutes:  Souttar (on for Connolly 51′), Erskine (on for Dow 64′)

Not used:  Szromnik (GK), Telfer, Spittal, Bilate, Anier.

Booked:  Ciftci (65), Butcher (78)

Sent-off:  Paton (11), Dixon (48)

Goals:  Ciftci (45+2 pen)

 

Celtic XI

Substitutes:  Guidetti (on for Stokes 64′), Scepovic (on for Griffiths 87′), Fisher (on for Bitton 90+3′)

Not used:  Zaluska (GK), Wakaso, McGregor, Henderson.

Booked:  Johansen (72)

Sent-off:  van Dijk (11)

Missed penalty:  Griffiths (49)

Goals:  Griffiths (70)

 

Craig Thomson referee

Referee:  Craig Thomson (Scotland) – 5/10
Attendance:  10,504

Willie Collum to ref Hearts v Celtic in Scottish Cup

WILLIE Collum has been appointed as the referee for Celtic’s Scottish Cup fourth round clash with Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday.

Familiar face: Collum has a wealth of experience on the domestic and European stage despite his young age
Familiar face: Collum has a wealth of experience on the domestic and European stage despite his young age

WILLIE Collum will referee the Scottish Cup fourth round encounter between Hearts and Celtic at Tynecastle this weekend.

The 35-year-old will be in the middle as the current leaders of the Championship and Premiership meet for the second time this term.

Collum was also at the helm at Parkhead in September – awarding both sides a penalty in Celtic’s 3-0 victory in the League Cup.

He will be assisted on Sunday by linesmen Graham Chambers and Stuart Stevenson while Stephen Finnie will be the fourth official.

Collum officiated his 19th match of the season in all competitions last Sunday, giving Aberdeen a controversial spotkick in their 1-0 victory at Partick Thistle in the top-flight.

It was one of 12 penalties the Fifa whistler has awarded already this term while he has brandished 79 yellow cards and sent off six players.

Collum – a Religious Education teacher at a high school in North Lanarkshire – is no stranger to this particular fixture having overseen two Hearts v Celtic games in Edinburgh last term.

He took charge of Celtic’s 7-0 thumping at the same stage of the Scottish Cup and a 3-1 win for the champions in the Premiership.

In the calendar year of 2012, Collum was also the man in black for two separate 4-0 wins for Celtic in the SPL at the home of the Jambos.

It will be the third time the Glasgow-born referee will encounter both sides this season and his second trip to Tynecastle after being in the firing line for an eventful Edinburgh derby clash between Hearts and Hibernian in August.

In control: Collum was on duty for St Johnstone's 2-1 win over Aberdeen at Ibrox in April
In control: Collum was on duty for St Johnstone’s 2-1 win over Aberdeen at Ibrox in April

Domestically, Collum – who refereed the 2013 Scottish Cup final and a semi-final last term – is now regarded by many as Scotland’s leading whistler – overtaking Craig Thomson in that respect.

Meanwhile, on the European front, he has been a Uefa Category One official since 2012 and has officiated both Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Champions League this campaign.

He was selected to officiate Barca’s group stage match with Ajax at the Nou Camp in October, just days after he was criticised by St Mirren for refusing to award them a penalty in their 1-0 home defeat by Inverness for a handball he admitted he had seen.

Hearts have dropped just four points from 14 league matches this season and have a nine-point lead over second-placed Rangers at the summit of the second tier.

Celtic sit top of the Premiership on goal difference – with 29 points from 13 games – but have a game in hand on the rest of the top six.

The 15:15 GMT kick-off will be screened live on Sky Sports as part of a double-header of Scottish Cup action, which is preceded by Rangers against Kilmarnock at Ibrox.