A shambolic penalty decision by Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan proved costly to Nothern Ireland on Thursday night. Michael O'Neill's side fell 1-0 to Switzerland at Windsor Park in the first leg of their World Cup playoff.
In the 57th minute, a Xherdan Shaqiri shot struck Corry Evans inside the box. Only Hategan and possibly the Swiss version of Gerry Armstrong believed it to be a penalty. Ricardo Rodriguez scored the penalty.
Speaking after the game, Jonny Evans - brother of Corry - said that the decision was even worse than Martin Hansson not spotting Thierry Henry's handball during the Republic's 2009 World Cup playoff game against France.
Evans told the Daily Mail that what made Hategan's decision worse was that he believes he saw something which did not happen.
It was actually a worse decision because the ref has made a call that was not there. It's different if he didn't see it. He's claimed he's seen something that didn't happen which is the hardest part to take about it.
It is probably the decision for a referee to guess. You can't really be 100 per cent sure and I said that to him straight away. But it was too late, he has given the decision and it's difficult to take.
Corry Evans told BBC that it was a "disgraceful" decision by the official.
"I clearly didn't put my hand up and I know it hit me right on the back of the shoulder. I'm just absolutely gutted, to be honest. He's booked me as well which means I'm out of the second leg which is devastating as well."
Picture credit: Sportsfile