Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels described UEFA’s decision to appoint a Nordic referee for his side’s Euro 2022 clash against Norway as a “boo-boo” after a 4-1 win at Southampton.
During a bizarre post-game press conference, Shiels appeared to have a problem with Finland official Lina Lehtovaara, who awarded Norway a first-half penalty after being alerted by VAR to Nadene Caldwell’s handball.
The 66-year-old ‘probably’ correctly accepted the penalty decision that made Caroline Graham Hansen 3-0, but nonetheless questioned Lehtovaara’s suitability for the Group A game.
When asked to clarify his peculiar complaint, he later dismissed the concerns as a “casual remark” and told reporters “don’t worry about it.”
“We made mistakes, we were 2-0 down and then they get a penalty where the ball hits the player in the upper arm and the Nordic referee who officiated a game with a Nordic team gave the penalty.” said Shiels.
“But I’m not saying for a minute that it was because she was the referee. I’m just saying those stats were there and made it really difficult for her to be a referee and UEFA are very precise and they tell you what to do and they’re so precise that I think that was a boo boo.
“But most of the referees under the new rules probably would have existed anyway, but I’m just saying it was tough for us.”
When asked directly if Lehtovaara was an unsuitable selection, he replied: “I don’t blame that for our defeat in any way, but I’m just saying that I don’t think we should talk too much about it because it’s a side event.
“I only speak to you as human beings; People with the same feelings that we all have.
“It’s no big deal, it’s just a passing comment, so don’t worry.”
Hansen’s penalty complemented early goals from Julie Blakstad and Frida Maanum before Guro Reit’s free-kick meant Northern Ireland’s first appearance in a major tournament would end in defeat after consolation from Julie Nelson.
A difficult evening for the lowest-ranked side in the competition was compounded when striker Simone Magill left the field in tears with a knee injury and Shiels feared the worst.
“Our thoughts are with Simone Magill,” he said.
“It’s her knee. I’m a football coach, not a doctor, but I don’t think the signs are good.”
Norway – winners of this competition in 1987 and 1993 – drew level on points with hosts England after outclassing the Shiels underdog.
Player of the match Hansen was relieved to have gotten off to a good start after painful memories of Norway’s dismal EURO season five years ago.
“The last Euro was a disaster for us, we didn’t even score a goal, we went home after the group stage, so it was important for everyone to get back on their feet and get off to a good start,” said the 27 -year-olds. old Barcelona star.
“I think everyone who was there in 2017 felt the relief today when we scored the first goal.
“It’s just a shame we didn’t end up getting one or two more on the scorer list because I think we deserved that, but if everything was perfect in the opening game it would be too good to be true, so is it normal that we have a few things to work on.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/kenny-shiels-disappointed-with-referee-appointment-in-northern-ireland-defeat-41823620.html Kenny Shiels disappointed in refereeing Northern Ireland defeat