9 biggest Celtic vs Rangers VAR moments so far including Dessers 'foul' and Silva 'dive'

Around a year-and-a-half after VAR was introduced in Scotland, we have had our fair share of controversy since.

As is probably to be expected, that has particularly been the case in the Old Firm derby with Celtic and Rangers both writing to the SFA with concerns over it's use in the fixture at different times. From the first derby which had the technology in January 2023 to the most recent last month, there has been talking point after talking point.

And with two more, potentially pivotal, clashes coming before this campaign ends there will no doubt be more fallout and conspiracy. There's the small matter of a league game this weekend in which the Hoops can virtually seal the Premiership title before a cup final between the pair two weeks later.

We've taken this opportunity to look back at all of the major VAR controversies between the sides since it was brought in.

January 2 2023

Goldson 'handball'

The first time VAR was used in a fixture between the pair was always going to throw up some controversy given how things had started with the technology's use in Scotland. The Hoops managed to snatch a 2-2 draw thanks to Kyogo's late equaliser and that maintained their lead at the top of the table, which turned out to be crucial. But things could've turned out even better after Carl Starfelt's goalbound effort appeared to strike Connor Goldson's arm. VAR official Willie Collum didn't advise ref John Beaton to have another look and the consensus afterwards was that he probably should have. Celtic ended up writing to the SFA with concerns over VAR's handling of what they felt was a clear handball.

April 8 2023

Morelos 'goal'

The Colombian thought he had opened the scoring but was pulled up for an alleged foul on Alistair Johnston even though it looked like six of one and half a dozen of the other. On-pitch whistler Kevin Clancy blew for a foul and Nick Walsh on VAR didn't ask him to check and that left Ally McCoist fuming on comms. He blasted: "It's embarrassing, absolutely embarrassing the way we're running VAR. It's a laughing stock. Nick, come and tell us what you're seeing, son. Honestly. VAR when they go and check it and continue with the decision make the officials look totally incompetent."

Jota 'handball'

One that wasn't picked up on at the time but which then Gers boss Michael Beale flagged was a 'handball' by Jota in the build-up to Celtic's second goal of a 3-2 victory. Giving Clancy a pass, the Englishman blamed the VAR team for not picking up on it.

September 3 2023

Dessers 'foul' on Lagerbielke

The first derby of the current campaign brought one of the biggest VAR talking points of the fixture to date. Celtic won 1-0 in front of an Ibrox packed full of only Rangers supporters but the home side felt they were cruelly denied by a poor decision. It looked like Kemar Roofe had given them a first-half lead after being set up by Cyriel Dessers. But VAR highlighted a potential foul on Gustaf Lagerbielke in the build-up and referee Don Robertson was sent over to the monitor where he decided to bring it back for a Hoops free-kick. Gers were incensed and just to make things as clear as mud, pundits and ex-refs couldn't seem to agree on whether it was a foul on Dessers, on Lagerbielke or not one at all.

December 30 2023

Johnston handball

Another incident which really simmered over was when the Light Blues felt they should've had a penalty for an Alistair Johnston handball. There was a lot of confusion around why it hadn't been given but it was then clarified that Abdallah Sima was offside in the build-up and that then cancelled out what happened after. Rangers still criticised the officials as that wasn't what appeared to be given at the time and it was their turn to write to the SFA and demand the VAR audio.

Elbow debate?

Johnston was at the heart of a second controversy when he looked to catch Sima with an elbow while already on a booking. Nick Walsh didn't deem it worthy of any action and VAR didn't intervene.

April 7 2024

Connor Goldson handball

Yep, another Goldson handball. The ball caught the defender on the elbow no question and this time it WAS given as a penalty.

Silva 'dive' overturned to pen

Another hugely contentious moment. Fabio Silva had already been accused of diving in this game and others and when he went down under the challenge of Johnston in the box, Beaton immediately flashed him a yellow. However, he was then sent to the screen and with replays showing the Canadian catching him across the knees and tripping him after making contact with the ball, a spot kick was given. Gers also had a grievance with the defender once again not being shown a second yellow. Celtic were again demanding answers from the SFA.

Dessers 'goal'

Rangers did eventually manage to find a way back to draw the game but thought they had done so sooner. Beaton had allowed play to go on in the middle of the pitch when Tom Lawrence tackled Tomoki Iwata and they went up the pitch to find the net through Dessers. However, VAR brought it back to that challenge and it was ruled that a foul had been committed. Another problem for the hosts was the feeling that it had been brought back too far into another phase of play.