A LASZ FROM THE PAST
Evans blasts ref’s decision to award a costly penalty after he blocks shot with his back
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