Switzerland beats Northern Ireland on contentious penalty

  • Switzerland beats Northern Ireland on contentious penalty

Switzerland beats Northern Ireland on contentious penalty

"We played much better than Northern Ireland and deserved to win".

The Northern Ireland star limped off injured early in the second-half of his side's 1-0 home World Cup qualifying play-off defeat by Switzerland in Belfast last night.

In truth, though, help and video replays should not have been required in this instance, and when Hategan did point to the spot, the only surprise greater than that on the faces of the players was that the assistant referee did not intervene and explain to Hategan the error of his ways.

"It was actually a worse decision because the ref has made a call that was not there", he said. "It's different if he didn't see it, (but) he's claiming that he did see something that didn't happen, and that's the hardest bit to take".

"It's staggering really that the referee can give that penalty decision in that situation", O'Neill told Sky Sports. "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". It will be seen at the World Cup finals, but that was no consolation for O'Neill's team on Thursday.

"(VAR) should be used for anything that is a defining decision, which is clearly what we saw.

Switzerland were the better team but they owe their slender lead largely thanks to an alarmingly incompetent piece of officiating from Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan that Michael O'Neill called the worst he had ever seen in global football and saw the biggest night of football in Belfast for 36 years descend into acrimony.

"It's not a definite penalty", Swiss boss Vladimir Petkovic said.

"It was a clean sheet and we scored once - that's ideal for us". "They played too defensively against us and they did not do enough to score so they're going to come to Basel, try to be more offensive and that will mean it is more open for us". Granit Xhaka had a couple of chances before Haris Seferovic latched onto the end of a fine cross from the impressive Shaqiri but McGovern saved smartly.

The Swiss continued to pour forward and Blerim Dzemaili's ball in the 54th minute was missed by the sliding Seferovic with the goal gaping.

'The players deserve enormous credit, they had to turn it around themselves.

Despite the controversy overshadowing the game, many fans remain upbeat about Northern Ireland's chances of qualification as the team prepares to travel to Basel on Sunday for the second leg. "We will see how the Swiss deal with that on their own territory".