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O’Neill “thought the ref had blown for foul or offside”

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Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill is feeling rightly aggrieved after his side’s World Cup hopes took a huge blow via a poor penalty call.

[ RECAP: N. Ireland 0-1 Switzerland ]

Romanian referee Ovidiu Hațegan called Corry Evans for a handball when Xherdan Shaqiri‘s shot was blocked by the leaping defender, who had his arm tucked into his body near the top of the 18.

Shaqiri admitted he “didn’t know if it was a penalty or not,” though most others will tell you it should not have been given. Ricardo Rodriguez converted the chance for the Swiss, who were better on the day, and the 1-0 tie heads to Basel on Sunday.

Here’s O’Neill, from the BBC:

“The referee has no-one in his line of sight. Corry’s arm isn’t in an unnatural position, it’s by his side. The ball hits him on the back more than anything. I thought the referee had blown for a foul or an offside. Nobody had claimed for it. I’m staggered by the decision, staggered by the yellow card.”

O’Neill said the players have to channel their visible anger from the dressing room into a performance in Switzerland. It’ll be hard, as stopping the Swiss attack requires complete defensive focus and the Norn Iron don’t have the hopes of 0-0 and penalties.

Wolfsburg holds off Braunschweig with Vieirinha blast (video)

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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Outworked and outperformed in the first half of their playoff second leg at Eintracht Braunschweig, Wolfsburg needed a wake-up call to steady its hopes of staying in the Bundesliga.

That came off the boot of longtime right back Vieirinha, as the Portuguese veteran ran onto a rebound and fired a 17-yard arrow into the goal to boost Wolfsburg aggregate lead to 2-0.

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That would mean the 2.Bundesliga hosts would need three goals to give the second tier a third promotion this season. An 82nd minute red card to Braunschweig’s Maximilian Sauer effectively ended those far-off dreams.

Ingolstadt and Darmstadt were relegated in the season, and Stuttgart and Hannover were promoted from 2.Bundesliga.