Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - SPORT -

in par­tic­u­larly at this level.”

AC Mi­lan de­fender Ri­cardo Ro­driguez stepped up to beat Michael Mcgovern and gift the Swiss a cru­cial away goal ahead of Sun­day’s re­turn leg in Basel.

Former de­fender

John O’neill, who played in North­ern Ire­land’s last World Cup in 1986, branded Mr Hate­gan “the worst ref­eree I’ve seen in a long time”.

Boss O’neill stopped short of call­ing the of­fi­cial “in­com­pe­tent”, but was left “stag­gered” by the de­ci­sion and a yel­low card for Evans which rules him out of the se­cond leg of the World Cup play-off.

He said: “I’m not in a po­si­tion to say the ref­eree is in­com­pe­tent – of course I’m not go­ing to say that.

“The ball clearly strikes Corry on the back. He has turned his back on the ball.

“I thought the ref­eree had given an off­side or some­thing but to award a penalty and to book Corry? It doesn’t qual­ify any of the cri­te­ria needed to award a penalty. You even saw the re­ac­tion of the Swiss. They were as sur­prised as we were that they got a penalty.”

O’neill, bid­ding to lead North­ern Ire­land to back-to-back tour­na­ments for the first time ever, be­lieves last night’s in­ci­dent sup­ports the case for video ref­er­ee­ing.

He said: “I spent three hours in a con­fer­ence the other week at FIFA about video as­sis­tant ref­er­ee­ing and when you see what hap­pened here you would be an ad­vo­cate of it.”

North­ern Ire­land must now lift them­selves and O’neill said: “We have to for­get about this – we are still in the tie. There’s anger in the dress­ing room and I don’t think I’ll have to lift the play­ers.”

The man­ager felt Swiss de­fender Fabian Schar was for­tu­nate to es­cape a red for an early lunge on Stu­art Dal­las.

He said: “Stu­art’s in­jury is a blow. The tackle was a red card in my opin­ion.”

GET IN Swiss cel­e­brate their win­ning goal

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