THE Slovenian referee dubbed ‘weak’ by Jose Mourinho and ‘a disgrace’ by Arsene Wenger will take charge of Celtic’s crunch Europa League clash against Zenit St Petersburg.

The 41-year-old felt the wrath of Mourinho in 2015 following his failure to award Chelsea a penalty during a Champions League fixture against Dynamo Kiev which ended 0-0.

Mourinho fumed “the referee was weak and naive, it was a big penalty,” before comparing Skomina’s error with that of Rugby official Craig Joubert, who infamously cost Scotland a semi-final place in 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Wenger was similarly enraged in March 2012 after Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League 4-3 on aggregate against AC Milan.

Seeking to overturn a 4-0 deficit from the first-leg in Italy, the Gunners won 3-0 at the Emirates but the veteran French boss was left seething with the number of free-kicks awarded to the Italians and the fact Skomina only played three minutes of injury time.

Wenger confronted the whistler in the tunnel and reportedly branded him “a disgrace”, earning a three-match ban and a £33,000 fine by Uefa.

Nevertheless, Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers will be hopeful that Skomina’s appointment proves to be a lucky omen, given the only other time he has officiated a game involving a Scottish club was the Hoops’ thrilling 5-2 win over Hapoel Beer Sheva in last season’s Champions League playoff round. He was also the man in the middle as Scotland defeated Lithuania 3-1 at Hampden during the ultimately failed Euro 2008 qualification campaign.

Despite courting controversy, Skomina is considered one of Uefa’s top officials and has taken charge of a swathe of high-profile fixtures, most notably last season’s Europa League final which saw Manchester United defeat Ajax in Stockholm.

He has also overseen a Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Bernabeu and the Euro 2016 quarter-final which saw Wales claim a historic triumph over Belgium to reach the last-four in France.

HeraldScotland | Sport

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