BELFAST, Northern Ireland — A controversial penalty awarded due to a hand ball has been sufficient to give Switzerland a 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland at the first leg of the World Cup playoff Thursday.
A volley from Xherdan Shaqiri struck Corey Evans’s shoulder since Evans tried to block the shot. The Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan pointed to the playground area, drawing angry protests in the Northern Ireland players.
Ricardo Rodriguez converted the penalty kick in the 58th minute, placing the Swiss at the drivers’ seat to meet the requirements to their fourth World Cup in a row.
“It is odd since I had a sense that the referee knew he had made an erroneous choice,” Evans explained, “and I am certain he had been getting fed data throughout the match and he would tell with everyone else’s response that perhaps he’d made the wrong cal”
Northern Ireland Manager Michael O’Neill bemoaned the absence of movie assistant referee technologies from the World Cup playoff series.
“It is simply surprising in this day and age once the stakes are so large in that level of this match which something like that’s a game-changer,” O’Neill stated. “I spent hours at a seminar the other week in FIFA on movie helper refereeing, and surely once you see exactly what happened tonight you’d surely be an advocate of thi”
Boos rang out in the final whistle as house lovers directed their ire in the game.
The next leg will be performed at Basel, Switzerland, on Sunday.
CROATIA 4, GREECE 1 Croatia took a critical step in World Cup eligibility, overpowering Greece at the first leg of the playoff.
Captain Luka Modric shook off concerns of bad shape by opening the scoring from the penalty area in the 13th minute.
The German referee Gianluca Rocchi given the punishment after goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis of Greece failed to control the ball and fouled Nikola Kalinic using a badly manicured clearance.
Kalinic added yet another goal six minutes after, flicking at a cross out of Ivan Strinic together with the side of the foot.
Greece fought to recover composure and seldom assaulted, but Sokratis Papastathopoulos temporarily silenced the home crowd, delivering a header above Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and to the internet.
But relief for those traffic was short lived. Ivan Perisic headed in a cross from Sime Vrsaljko at the 33rd minute as Croatia dominated both limbs.
The fourth goal came four minutes after the rest out of Andrej Kramaric, swooping in following a mistake by Kostas Stafylidis.
Greece hosts the next leg of their playoff on Sunday.
Courtesy: The New York Times