Granit Xhaka doesn’t understand why everyone’s making such a big deal about the penalty Switzerland were given against Northern Ireland on Thursday evening.

Xhaka is sooo over all this talk about the controversial penalty Switzerland were given against Northern Ireland this week during the first leg of their 2018 World Cup play-off.

“I don’t know why it is such a big topic or why there is such a big discussion around it,” said the 25-year-old.

“We were the better team and we want to show it again on Sunday and qualify for Russia. We are a good team.

“We are maybe the better team compared to Northern Ireland and on Sunday, with all the support that we will have behind us, we want to make them proud and qualify for the World Cup.

“To discuss the penalty, and whether it was a penalty or not, it is the decision of the referee and not of interest to us.

“It is difficult to play Northern Ireland – defensively they are very strong – but I thought we played a good match from the beginning in Belfast and created a couple of good chances.

“Sunday is a totally different game. Both teams will act differently but I think our victory in Belfast was deserved.”

Obviously, as a Switzerland international, Xhaka probably can’t say too much. However, the penalty itself was ridiculous and should never have been given.

Referee Ovidiu Hategan awarded the spot-kick in the 58th minute after Corry Evans ‘handled’ the ball in the area when in reality the ball was kicked at him from close range and it bounced off his back.

Ricardo Rodríguez capitalised on the official’s mistake and scored the only goal of the game, giving the Swiss a 1-0 advantage going into the second leg on Sunday evening.

Xhaka’s right, Switzerland did play better. They had 64% possession and 16 shots (two on target) to Northern Ireland’s five (zero on target). However, when their only goal is a penalty that shouldn’t have stood, it’s very easy to understand why Michael O’Neill felt so aggrieved post-match.

Northern Ireland haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 1986. That penalty could be heartbreaking. THAT’S why people are making a fuss about it, Granit.

Northern Ireland have a chance to turn things around in Basel tonight (Sunday) at 5pm (UK time).

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