Belfast Telegraph

'That's UEFA's choice': David Healy admits surprise over Russian referee appointed to take charge of Linfield's loss to Qarabag

David Healy
David Healy

Linfield boss David Healy says the majority of the decisions in Thursday night's Europa League play-off second-leg against Qarabag went to the home side.

The Blues were denied a dream spot in the group stage on away goals after drawing 4-4 on aggregate with the Azerbaijan champions.

Beaten 2-1 on the night in Baku, Healy admitted his surprise over the appointment of Russian officials, led by referee Sergey Ivanov.

"I haven't seen it back to see if the second goal was offside," Healy began, speaking of Abdellah Zoubir's 88th minute winner, which would go on to be proven onside by TV replays.

"I don't know but I thought the majority of the game, the referee's decisions went to the home team; the little throw-ins, little 50:50 decisions.

"I was surprised that we had a Russian referee but that's UEFA's choice. Anybody that has seen the game, Qarabag have proven that they're a very good side. I know everybody at Linfield wishes Qarabag well in the group stage.

"I'm super proud of my players and disappointed that we're not the team going to the group stage but good luck to Qarabag in the next stage."

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Healy was more animated later in his post-match press conference as he praised his team's run through the qualifiers.

He said: "We have a budget. We are part-time footballers so maybe you should ask the question to Qarabag, if we are that bad why didn't they beat us (by) more?

"We have zero problem. We are part-time footballers. We work hard, we're organised and disciplined. For us to come the way we did and as far as we did to push Qarabag all the way, maybe you need to ask the people at Qarabag."

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