Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland fans dismayed as contested penalty leaves them on brink of exit

Northern Ireland football fans recoiled in agony as Switzerland scored a controversial penalty against the home team.

Ricardo Rodriguez scored the only goal of the World Cup play-off match, after being awarded a penalty in the 58th minute when the ball struck Corry Evans' arm, which secured a 1-0 victory for the visitors to Windsor Park.

In Lavery's Bar in Belfast, a second of stunned silence rang out among the hoards of keen fans who had gathered to cheer on the local side as they watched the Swiss player's goal strike the back of the net.

However, the hush soon erupted in outraged tuts and jeers at what the fans quickly classified an outrageous decision by the referee.

Simon Adams, who had travelled from Lisburn to watch the match there said: "We were robbed.

"There's no other way of putting it.

"That penalty made no sense at all.

"The ref was blind."

Hamish Calvert, who had travelled from Holywood in outer Belfast, agreed: "Their side did loads to us that was much worse than that and we didn't get a penalty.

"It wasn't fair at all."

Not all fans disputed the penalty, however.

Gerard McIlroy was among those gracious in defeat, saying: "It was a fair penalty, let's be honest about it.

"I don't hold it against the ref."

This evening's performance made him fearful for Northern Ireland's next game though, he added: "Tonight was a disappointment. I thought we'd maybe draw but not lose.

"To be honest, I think we'll likely lose the next one now if we lost this despite it being on home turf.

"Who knows what will happen, though?"

Northern Ireland play their next leg of the World Cup play off on Sunday in Basel.

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