Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Watch: 'We were robbed but we were awful' - The GAWA react to Northern Ireland defeat

What the fans said

By Ian Cahoon

The night began as a cauldron of green and white in the stands and ended with a chorus of boos for the referee.

The controversial decision from Romanian official Ovidiu Alin Hategan to award a second half penalty allowed Switzerland to score the only goal of the game and infuriated the home faithful.

As they made their way home in the rain, there was a real sense of injustice coming from the fans, who did their best to make it an intimidating atmosphere for the Swiss visitors.

Specially-made flags left on every fan's seat made it a sea of green and white as Steven Davis led the players on to the pitch for his 100th Northern Ireland appearance.

However, by the end of the night there was only one man on the lips of supporters.

"I honestly can't believe the referee's decision which has gone against us," said Martin Boal.

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World of woe: Northern Ireland supporters can’t hide their disappointment at Windsor Park last night

"To make a mistake at this level in a game of that importance is a complete shocker.

"I thought he was reluctant to give us decisions all night. It's going to be a massive task from here on in."

Coleraine man Gary Martin was also furious about the penalty decision.

He added: "You could see from the stands that it was never a handball, how can a referee standing 10 yards away not see it?

"Hopefully the lads use it as motivation going into the away game because we were robbed there.

"I actually thought we were much better in the second half. Just as they scored we were starting to get on top.

"We'll have to go over there and score a goal but the lads can do it."

Michael O'Neill's men were slow out of the traps in the first half and rode their luck at times, according to James Stephenson.

"We were disappointing in the first half to honest, we were lucky enough to come in at 0-0," he said.

"As usual I thought Michael O'Neill sorted it out really well at half-time and we were much in the second half.

"We just couldn't keep the ball in their box long enough to put them under the sort of pressure we needed."

Gary Clarke was delighted to see Jamie Ward make his return from injury as a second half substitute.

"I thought Jamie was a massive plus when he came on, I think he needs to start on Sunday," he said.

"He gave them no time on the ball and helped to get us much higher up the pitch.

"It'll be backs to the walls over there, but we need a goal from somewhere now."

Belfast Telegraph

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