Evans blasts ref’s de­ci­sion to award a costly penalty after he blocks shot with his back

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - SPORT - BY DAR­REN FULLERTON

HEART­BRO­KEN Corry Evans has branded last night’s World Cup howler from ref­eree Ovidiu Hate­gan at Wind­sor Park as “dis­grace­ful”.

The Black­burn Rovers mid­fielder was left speech­less when the Ro­ma­nian of­fi­cial pointed to the spot after a shot from Stoke City winger Xher­dan Shaqiri struck him on the shoul­der.

Mi­lan de­fender Ri­cardo Ro­driguez stepped up to send Michael Mcgovern the wrong way and hand Switzer­land a cru­cial ad­van­tage head­ing into Sun­day’s re­turn leg in Basel.

To add salt to the wounds, Evans also picked up a yel­low card fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent, a de­ci­sion which rules him out of the week­end clash at the St Jakob’s Park arena.

North­ern Ire­land now face an up­hill task in their bid to reach a first World Cup since

Billy Bing­ham’s famed sides of

1982 and 1986.

Evans said: “It was dis­grace­ful and I’m ab­so­lutely dev­as­tated by the de­ci­sion. I clearly didn’t put my hand up and I know it hit me right on the back of the shoul­der so I’m just ab­so­lutely gut­ted.

“He has booked me as well which means I’m out of the se­cond leg which is dev­as­tat­ing. The ref­eree didn’t help us at all but the lads have told me to keep my chin up.

“We’ve got to pick our­selves up, look to the se­cond leg and hope­fully we can get a re­sult in Switzer­land.”

Corry’s older brother Jonny be­lieves last night’s call from the ref­eree was worse than Thierry Henry’s hand­ball in Paris which cost the Repub­lic of Ire­land a place at the 2010 World Cup.

The West Bromwich Al­bion de­fender said: “It was ac­tu­ally worse be­cause the ref­eree has made a call that wasn’t there. It’s dif­fer­ent from not see­ing it.

“He’s claimed he saw some­thing that didn’t hap­pen which is the hard­est part to take. I haven’t said any­thing to Corry

– what can you say in a mo­ment like that?

“He didn’t do any­thing wrong. He made a great block from the shot. I’m sure ev­ery­one else could tell it was a bad call.

“I said to the ref­eree, ‘You have to be 100% here’ but it was too late. It is re­ally, re­ally dif­fi­cult to take.”

Evans hopes the in­tense sense of in­jus­tice from last night’s de­feat will pro­pel North­ern Ire­land into Sun­day’s se­cond leg at the St Jakob’s Park arena.

He added: “There is anger and dis­ap­point­ment but we have to pick our­selves up and give ev­ery­thing in the se­cond leg now. We still have time to turn the tie around.”

Switzer­land winger Shaqiri (inset) said: “I don’t know if it was a penalty or not. I tried to get a shot on tar­get and I don’t know if he touched it with his hand or not.

“We con­trolled the game over 90 min­utes, had a lot of pos­ses­sion and cre­ated chances. We played much better than North­ern Ire­land and de­served to win.

“We knew it would be dif­fi­cult and they have their own fans be­hind them. We are now look­ing for­ward to Basel, the se­cond leg and try­ing to win again to reach the World Cup.”

CRU­SADERS boss Stephen Bax­ter is look­ing for­ward to fac­ing Dundee United to­mor­row – and find­ing out if Cs­aba Las­zlo re­mem­bers him.

His side meet the Tay men in the quar­ter-fi­nal of the Irn-bru Cup in Las­zlo’s first game in charge of the Cham­pi­onship club.

Bax­ter reck­ons he al­ready knows the Hun­gar­ian’s (inset) man­age­rial ap­proach and said: “I’m look­ing for­ward to meet­ing Cs­aba again. He helped me when I was work­ing to­wards a UEFA qual­i­fi­ca­tion eight years ago. I had to spend a week with a club out­side North­ern Ire­land and went to Hearts when he was in charge. I re­ally en­joyed it. “Hope­fully he will re­mem­ber me. I have some in­side in­for­ma­tion on how Casaba likes the game played and I’m sure that will help us.”

ARE YOU SE­RI­OUS? Chris Brunt raises wry smile after ref Ovidiu Hate­gan’s de­ci­sion

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