Skip navigation
Favorites
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up
NBCSports Header Logo

O’Neill “thought the ref had blown for foul or offside”

Soccer WCup 2018 Northern Ireland Switzerland

Switzerland’s Ricardo Rodriguez scores the opening goal from the penalty spot during the World Cup qualifying play-off first leg soccer match between Northern Ireland and Switzerland at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thursday Nov. 9, 2017.(Niall Carson/PA via AP)

AP

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill is feeling rightly aggrieved after his side’s World Cup hopes took a huge blow via a poor penalty call.

[ RECAP: N. Ireland 0-1 Switzerland ]

Romanian referee Ovidiu Hațegan called Corry Evans for a handball when Xherdan Shaqiri’s shot was blocked by the leaping defender, who had his arm tucked into his body near the top of the 18.

Shaqiri admitted he “didn’t know if it was a penalty or not,” though most others will tell you it should not have been given. Ricardo Rodriguez converted the chance for the Swiss, who were better on the day, and the 1-0 tie heads to Basel on Sunday.

Here’s O’Neill, from the BBC:

“The referee has no-one in his line of sight. Corry’s arm isn’t in an unnatural position, it’s by his side. The ball hits him on the back more than anything. I thought the referee had blown for a foul or an offside. Nobody had claimed for it. I’m staggered by the decision, staggered by the yellow card.”

O’Neill said the players have to channel their visible anger from the dressing room into a performance in Switzerland. It’ll be hard, as stopping the Swiss attack requires complete defensive focus and the Norn Iron don’t have the hopes of 0-0 and penalties.

Follow @NicholasMendola