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Edinburgh (AFP) – Newly-appointed Celtic manager Neil Lennon slammed the “totally unacceptable” bottle-throwing incidents that marred his return to Easter Road on Saturday as the Hoops knocked his old club Hibernian out of the Scottish Cup with a 2-0 quarter-final win.
In the second-half at the Edinburgh ground, with the game still scoreless and Celtic winger Scott Sinclair set to take a corner, referee Willie Collum was seen removing a bottle that had been thrown onto the pitch.
A flare was also thrown onto the field after James Forrest put Celtic ahead in the 62nd minute.
Both players were unharmed, with a post-match statement from Hibernian insisting that “two bottles were thrown, one from each set of supporters”.
Saturday’s match was the latest example of objects being thrown from the crowd, with coins hurled at former Rangers striker Kris Boyd during Kilmarnock’s 1-0 defeat by Celtic last month.
Lennon, by a coin in October when he was Hibs manager in an Edinburgh derby at Hearts’ Tynecastle ground, said: “It is a sore point of this season, whether it be bottles, coins, flares.
“It is just totally unacceptable.
“That should be safe environment for the players, they are entertaining the public, whether the Celtic public or the Scottish public.”
– ‘Happens far too often’ –
“I don’t like to see it. It has got to be stamped out. It just happens far too often.
“That could really have hurt Scott and if it had, God knows what we would be talking about now.
“It must be a social thing, I don’t know. It is not on. We need to find the culprits, arrest them and punish them.”
Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom, Lennon’s successor at Easter Road, was equally forthright in his condemnation of the Sinclair incident, saying: “No one wants to see it. Wherever it has come from, we need to find whoever has thrown it.”
Meanwhile Hibernian’s statement promised the club would do all it could to find those responsible.
“We will review the CCTV footage and work with the appropriate authorities to identify those involved in throwing items onto the pitch,” it read.
“We understand two bottles were thrown, one from each set of supporters.
“This is entirely unacceptable and puts players and others at risk.
“The match was a good game, played in a great spirit but unfortunately yet again the headlines will be around this kind of unacceptable conduct.”