Play­ers were happy with ref, apart from one odd call


“A STONEWALL penalty”.

That was Soc­ceroos mid­fielder Jack­son Irvine’s take on ref­eree Daniele Or­sato’s con­tro­ver­sial call to re­verse his de­ci­sion to award the Soc­ceroos a spot kick in their 0-0 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing play­off first-leg draw against Hon­duras at the Es­ta­dio Olimpico Metropoli­tano.

Hon­duras goal­keeper Do­nis Es­cober knocked over Soc­ceroos de­fender Bai­ley Wright as he ad­vanced to clear a looped ball into his penalty area.

Or­sato im­me­di­ately pointed to the spot, but then no­ticed his as­sis­tant had his flag off.

Swarmed by Hon­duras play­ers as he con­sulted with the lines­man, Or­sato changed his mind.

Es­cober then took what most thought was a free-kick for off-side, al­though Soc­ceroos coach Ange Postecoglou later re­vealed the ref­eree told him it was a goal kick that was taken, sug­gest­ing the de­ci­sion was re­versed for an­other rea­son.

Irvine had no doubts the de- ci­sion should not have been re­versed.

“I can’t be­lieve it. Any­where else on the pitch if you win the ball and some­one comes through you it’s a penalty,” he said. “I thought it was a stonewall penalty. It’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see it again.”

Irvine was oth­er­wise con­tent with the per­for­mance of the Ital­ian whistle­blower.

“I was quite pleased with the ref­eree, he was quite vo­cal speak­ing to the play­ers. He wanted to let the game flow a lit­tle bit at the be­gin­ning,” Irvine said.

Soc­ceroos de­fender Trent Sains­bury, who like Irvine put in a tremen­dous shift, said he would not ques­tion Or­sato’s judg­ment.

“He was paid to do his job so let him ref­eree the game,” Sains­bury said.

Re­turn­ing skip­per Mile Je­d­i­nak, who was im­mense in his first game for Aus­tralia since June as he dealt with a groin in­jury, felt it was no use com­plain­ing about it.

“It was quite quick. I don’t have the ben­e­fit of a re­play,” the As­ton Villa hard­man said.

“You’ve got to ac­cept it and go on.”

Irvine was de­lighted to have Je­d­i­nak back in Soc­ceroos colours.

“He’s a great pres­ence. He’s a great char­ac­ter to have among the play­ers. He re­ally fills the space in the mid­dle of the park,” Irvine said.

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