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26 of 060 Christian Nade 38 ;Gary Glen 92 SC A

Mixu Paatelainen blasts Berra over Steven Fletcher's dismissal in Edinburgh derby

Gary Ralston

MIXU PAATELAINEN has accused Christophe Berra of jumping like a brown trout to get Steven Fletcher sent off as Hibs flopped again in the Scottish Cup.

The Easter Road boss was raging at the one that got away after strike star Fletcher was red carded by ref Craig Thomson for a reckless lunge at the Hearts defender.

Paatelainen insisted his player didn't even deserve a caution for the first-half flashpoint as Hearts marched into a fifth-round match-up against Falkirk with a 2-0 win.

However, Berra hit back and claimed he would have been seriously injured if he hadn't leapt out the way of the tackle after 30 minutes at Easter Road.

Paatelainen said: "Berra jumped like a brown trout and made things worse for Fletcher by getting him sent off.

"It was never a sending off. Fletcher's foot touched the ground and didn't even catch Berra at all.

"I'm disappointed Fletcher was sent off for nothing. I saw it clearly on TV and at the time it happened I had a good angle.

"He didn't even catch him. Obviously, strikers close down defenders and sometimes they go into their challenges late and you see them go for an ankle, shin or over the ball as if they want to harm their opponent. But there was nothing like that this time at all.

"I don't even think it was a yellow, maybe only if the referee felt he went into the tackle with too much power. But it was definitely not a red."

Berra was having none of Paatelainen's argument about an incident that left him clutching his right ankle, although he was free to play on after treatment.

He said: "I took a first touch and saw Fletcher come in and toe-poked it away just as he dived in.

"He caught me a wee bit and if I didn't try to avoid the tackle he could have caught me worse."

Hearts boss Csaba Laszlo also leapt to the defence of ref Thomson and claimed his decision was spot on. He said: "I can understand if you lose 2-0 at home you are searching for something, but not this red card.

"There was also a similar tackle made against Ruben Palazuelos on the sidelines but I thought the referee was the best I've seen this season.

"I'm not talking about his red card decision but his body language and the way he controlled a difficult game was very good and I compliment him."

Christian Nade opened the scoring seven minutes after Fletcher's dismissal, with sub Gary Glen adding a second in injury time in a match that attracted representatives from a clutch of English clubs, including Stoke, Man City, Fulham, Middlesbrough, Bolton and also Nottingham Forest boss Billy Davies.

Paatelainen admits the red card made the difference to the game and added: "When it was 11 against 11 we were by far the better side."

The Finn hooked keeper Yves Ma-Kalambay, who looked culpable at the first, for debutant Grzegorz Szamotulski at half-time, although insisted his starter had picked up a hamstring injury.

Hibs skipper Rob Jones also insisted Fletcher's dismissal cost his team and said: "We were on top before the sending off but couldn't get that first goal. There were never two goals in it."

To add to Hibs' woes, Derek Riordan could be in hot water after he was cautioned for an "up yours" gesture at teasing Hearts fans as he was substituted in the second half.

Taken from the Daily Record

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