Thursday, 23 November, 2017

Northern Ireland must 'channel the anger' over penalty decision - O'Neill

After rupturing his cruciate ligament Brunt was dealt the heartache of missing Euro 2016 After rupturing his cruciate ligament Brunt was dealt the heartache of missing Euro 2016
Marlene Weaver | 10 November, 2017, 03:50

Corry Evans described as "disgraceful" the decision that could destroy Northern Ireland's World Cup dream.

Evans was close to the Stoke playmaker and had his arms tucked in as he turned his back, with replays inconclusive over whether it even struck his arm.

"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".

"I think people see it as it's Northern Ireland and they've not done well for a long time, but on the other side they will go and buy players from the Republic squad", he added. Asked whether he had witnessed a worse decision during his time in management, O'Neill replied: "Certainly not in any of the games that I have been involved in, particularly at this level, no". "I spent three hours in a conference the other week at Federation Internationale de Football Association on Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) and certainly when you see what happened tonight you would certainly be an advocate of it".

"You could tell even from the Swiss players, there was a reaction of surprise that they had been given a penalty for an incident like that. He's five or six yards from the incident, it's in his line of sight", O'Neill said.

"I'm staggered by the decision, staggered by the yellow card but there's nothing we can do about it now", he added.

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The ball appeared to hit Evans on the shoulder and, even if it did touch the top of his arm, there seemed no possibility he could have got out of the way.

"He (Evans) touched the ball with his upper arm, it was a bit harsh but we deserved the win", he said. It doesn't qualify for any of the criteria for handball in the box. "VAR would have cleared it up and said it's clearly not a pen". It will be seen at the World Cup finals, but that was no consolation for O'Neill's team on Thursday.

O'Neill was incensed after the game, with his anger also fuelled by the referee's refusal to dismiss Fabian Schar for a risky foul on Stuart Dallas in the fifth minute. It's very hard when you go behind in a game of this magnitude to an incident like that but I thought they reacted very well.

Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic sympathised with O'Neill and his team but did highlight his own side's superiority, with Haris Seferovic twice unfortunate not to score and Shaqiri nearly bending an effort into the top corner.

Swiss manager Vladimir Petkovic said the penalty decision shouldn't overshadow the performance of his team.

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