Rangers' Walter Smith questions Celtic penalty award

Anthony Stokes wins a penalty after a challenge from Steven Davis
Stokes won a penalty following a challenge by Davis

Rangers manager Walter Smith suggests Celtic cannot complain about not getting decisions after their penalty award in the 0-0 draw at Ibrox.

Georgios Samaras' late spot-kick was saved after Steven Davis was ruled to have fouled Anthony Stokes.

"Celtic started this season with a campaign about never getting decisions," Smith told BBC Scotland.

"Well, they got one today. I don't think anybody can say that that was a penalty out there."

Celtic manager Neil Lennon thought that referee Craig Thomson got the decision right and suggested that his side should have had an earlier spot-kick when Joe Ledley clashed with Rangers' Steven Whittaker.

But Smith said: "The two players do the same thing. They run into players.

"I think the referee got that one right and, surprisingly, the second one is exactly the same.

"Steve Davis tries to get out the road of him and the Celtic player runs into him."

The draw means Celtic can leapfrog the reigning champions at the top of the Scottish Premier League should they win their game in hand.

"There is no doubt that Celtic have the upper hand," said Smith.

"They are in a position that we ourselves would like to be in.

"We are on a decent run at the moment, so we have to make sure that we keep winning and that's basically all we can do."

The lead up to the match had been shrouded in controversy, with Lennon and two prominent Celtic supporters being sent parcel bombs.

Celtic's Scottish Cup replay victory over Rangers in March led to a Scottish Government summit following misbehaviour on the field of play and in outside society.

"Both sets of players have been roundly criticised for stuff that happened in earlier games and I think you have to praise them for the way the last couple of matches have been played," said Smith.

"It was a good game considering all the stuff that was going on beforehand.

"I felt there was a really good atmosphere in the ground."

Smith thought his side paid for not taking their chances before goalkeeper Allan McGregor was called into action, including a fine save from Samaras's penalty.

"We had by far the better of the first hour of the game and I am a little bit disappointed that we didn't capitalise on that," he said.

"Just after the hour, we gave away some silly free-kicks that allowed Celtic to get into the penalty area on a regular basis for the first time in the match.

"And Allan had a couple of saves there that were important for us."