Friday 10 November 2017

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill expresses shock over penalty in Switzerland face-off

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has called the penalty decision made by Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan in the first leg of their World Cup play-off against Switzerland confusing.
The referee inexplicably pointed to the spot in the second half when Xherdan Shaqiri's shot hit the top of Corry Evans' arm when the Northern Ireland midfielder had his back turned. Ricardo Rodriguez converted from the spot to give the Swiss a 1-0 lead going back to Basel on Sunday and Evans was booked to rub salt into the wound, meaning he will miss the second leg.

He said “It's staggering really that the referee can give that penalty decision in that situation, he was six yards from the incident, he has no one in his line of sight. Corry has just gone to block it, his body is turned and the ball actually hits him more on the shoulder than the arm so it is incredible. I thought he had blown for a foul or for offside, so to give a penalty for that, when nobody appealed, it is bewildering really. In such a defining moment in the match, we feel very hard done by. The tackle by Schar was a borderline red card, the referee certainly didn't do us any favours tonight.”

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