Sport Champions League

Wednesday 29 March 2017

'A really appalling decision that swung the game' - Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny fuming over penalty decision

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny is dejected after the final whistle. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny is dejected after the final whistle. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

ANGRY Stephen Kenny believes that a “shocking decision” from referee Deniz Aytekin has left Dundalk with a mountain to climb after a 2-0 defeat to Legia Warsaw in the first leg of their Champions League play-off.

The German official pointed to the spot in the 56th minute after Andy Boyle blocked an errant shot from Legia’s Steeven Langil with his hand.

Dundalk conceded a killer second goal with the last kick of the game in front of 30,417 spectators at the Aviva Stadium and that has set them a mission impossible next week. But Kenny felt that his team were in a position of control until they suffered the shock of the spot-kick award that led to Nemanja Nikolic’s opener.

“It’s such a shocking decision,” said Kenny, who said that his players had attended a seminar earlier in the season where John Ward – the head of the Irish referees – demonstrated what was a legitimate handball. Boyle had his back turned to goal as he blocked a shot.

Dundalk FC manager Stephen Kenny reacts following his team conceeding a second goal
Dundalk FC manager Stephen Kenny reacts following his team conceeding a second goal

“His hand is not in an unnatural position,” said Kenny. “We’ve scrutinised what is a handball and what isn’t. Tell me where in the rules it says that it’s a penalty kick.”

“I’m disappointed at the really appalling decision that swung the game. You can’t give decisions like that in a game with huge ramifications and the historical context for Irish football.

“I thought we were the better team up to that point and there’s no way we deserved to lose 2-0. We showed our quality, but I think the goal really knocked us. Psychologically, it had a huge impact on the game itself.”

Kenny’s frustration was enhanced by an early booking for Stephen O’Donnell that rules the influential captain out of the decider in Warsaw next Tuesday. “I think we’re really up against it,” admitted his manager.

Boyle spoke about his anguish about conceding the controversial penalty.

“The ball hits my hand, but it’s behind my back. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do with your hand in that situation,” he said.

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny was dejected after the final whistle.
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny was dejected after the final whistle.

“It’s a difficult one to take for us and it swings the game their way.”

As a game changer, it was a big boost to the Polish championsh.

“It gave them a bit of impetus and knocked us back for 10-15 minutes, but I thought overall we definitely deserved something out of the game,” he said.

Legia’s second goal four minutes into injury time by Aleksandar Prijovic was an even bigger blow.

“It’s a massive blow for us. Going away 1-0 would be better for us than 2-0, but we’re still in the tie.

“A few years ago we did it against Hadjuk Split. Going over there (to Poland) we don’t think the tie is over,” said Boyle.

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