And the Hibs striker got a second yellow just 24 minutes into the game at Parkhead after colliding with Cameron Carter-Vickers.
The 23-year-old striker was booked for the first time after 19 minutes before being sacked five minutes later.
But Johnson defended Yan and insisted the incident could have resulted in a free kick for his side despite the striker making contact with Carter Vickers’ head.
Of the second yellow incident, Johnson said: “Having played myself, Carter fixed Vickers, a solid lad. Her start was almost a mistake, or maybe it was a mistake for us.
Eli Yuan then unbalances and is pulled by his left shoulder, thus trying to make contact with the ball – which he does – and Carter-Vickers’ head. But at that point, Carter-Vickers got sucked in.
“A 6’3 player crouches down to a ball that makes himself about 5 feet away. When you put all those together, it’s definitely not a hold. It’s just a foul either way, and then we get on with the game.
“That’s the problem with the VAR part of it. The gray area is that they don’t always turn over because they don’t want to make the referee look like he messed up.”
Johnson, who has advocated for VAR checks even in the case of a second yellow leading to a red, added: “Certainly if there is a sending-off and it’s a key factor in the game, then that should be looked at as well? Whether it’s a yellow card, a red card, a handball or Penalty “.
While Johnson was disappointed to leave Parkhead empty-handed, he was pleased with his team’s performance as he compared the much improved performance to the last time they visited Celtic Park.
He said: “I was definitely happy with the character. It’s a tough enough place to come to and then being restricted to the way we want to play is, in my eyes, a really bad decision.”
“It puts more demands on the players but I thought they were outstanding from start to finish. We tried to play too, but we had to fend for our lives.
“But we looked disciplined. We looked organized and I thought we showed spirit and how far we had come from the last time we played at Parkhead.”
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