Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough says the decision to send off Jamal Lewis “changed the course of the game” as his side lost 2-0 to Switzerland.
Lewis received a second yellow card for time wasting in the 37th minute and subsequent goals from Steven Zuber and Christian Fassnacht secured victory.
“I think it is a diabolical decision. The referee has not realised he booked him earlier on,” said Baraclough.
“The first time he has asked him to hurry up he brings out a red card.
“I think he has forgotten he hasn’t spoken to Jamal once. He realises he has booked him and he can’t go back on his decision.”
- Ten-man Northern Ireland go down to Switzerland – as it happened
Newcastle defender Lewis’s dismissal for taking too long over a throw-in had Northern Ireland on the back for the remainder of the game and the loss all but ended their World Cup qualification hopes.
“He has not given Jamal any warning so he has no clue he’s on a warning. There was certainly no warnings of people getting booked or something would be done about it if we don’t hurry up.
“If there’s not a throw on for him he isn’t just going to throw it to a Switzerland player, is he? Was he time wasting? I think he was looking for an option to throw it to.”
‘The lads have given everything’
Zuber slotted home in first-half stoppage time and Fassnacht secured the win by scoring his side’s second in added time at the end of the second.
“It’s ruined the game. The lads out there have given absolutely everything. We tried to get to half-time to reorganise and they have scored with the last kick of the first half which makes it a totally different game.
“I didn’t get to speak to them [the officials] because they don’t want to listen. There was no conversation going on and there is no talking.
“You want an explanation, they knew they had made a mistake. The Swiss didn’t need any help, I think a lot of decisions that were 50/50 went their way and sometimes you have to accept that when you are going away from home.
“The crowd are asking for decisions, the players are asking for decisions. They are a good team and they have good players. They are strong and they can open you up, but even with 10 men they didn’t open us up that many times.
“Yes, they had chances, they were always going to have chances, but we kept ourselves in the game.”