Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels described UEFA’s decision to appoint a Nordic the referee of his team’s match at Euro 2022 Norway like a boo-boo after the 4-1 thrashing at Southampton.

In a surprising post-match press conference, Shiels appeared unconcerned about Finnish official Lina Lechtavaara awarding the Norwegians a first-half penalty after being alerted by VAR for Naden Caldwell’s handball.

The 66-year-old agreed Caroline Graham Hansen’s decision to take the spot-kick to make it 3-0 was “probably” correct, but still questioned Lehtavaara’s fitness for the Group A match.

When asked to elaborate on his particular complaint, he later dismissed the concerns as “passing,” telling reporters “don’t worry about it.”

“We were making mistakes, losing 2-0, and then they get a penalty when the ball hits a player’s upper arm and the referee from the Nordics, who was refereeing the game with the Northern team, awarded a penalty,” Shiels said.

“But I’m not saying for a minute that it’s because she was a judge. I’m just saying that these statistics were there and it was very difficult to judge and UEFA are very precise, they tell you what to do and they are so precise that I think it was a bummer.

“But most judges under the new ruling probably would have given it anyway, but I’m just saying it was difficult for us.”

Asked directly if Lehtavaara was a poor choice, he said: “I’m not blaming it in any way for our defeat, I’m just saying I don’t think we should talk too much about it because it’s a side event.

“I’m just talking to you as human beings; people with the same feelings as all of us.

“It’s not a big deal, it’s just a passing comment, so don’t worry about it.”

Hansen’s penalty, added to early strikes from Julie Blakstad and Frida Maanum before Gur Rayten’s free-kick, ensured Northern Ireland’s first appearance at a major tournament would end in defeat after Julie Nelson’s consolation.

Simone Magill forced out due to injury (Nigel French/Pennsylvania)

(PA Wire)

A difficult night for the lowest-ranked side in the competition was compounded when forward Simone Magill left the pitch in tears with a knee injury, with Shiels fearing 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 the competition in 1987 and 1993 – level on points with the hosts England after outplaying outsiders Shiels.

Caroline Graham Hansen (R) scores Norway’s third goal (Nigel French/Pennsylvania)

(PA Wire)

Man of the match Hansen was relieved to start winning after painful memories of a dismal European Championship campaign in Norway five years ago.

“The last Euro was a disaster for us, we didn’t even score a goal, we came home after the group stage, so to be able to recover and start well was important for everyone,” said the 27-year-old. old man Barcelona a star

“I think everyone who was there in 2017 was relieved today when we scored the first goal.

“It’s a shame we didn’t score another one or two in the end because I think we deserved it, but if everything was perfect in the opening game it would have been too good to be true, so that’s OK, what we have is something to work on.”

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