Australia’s Leena Khanis stared in shock when defender Bruna held the ball in both hands for a couple of seconds in front of Equatorial Guinea’s goal – and nothing happened.
Khanis pointed to Bruna as she casually dropped the ball. The Australian then looked for the referee and shouted, “Handball!”
But no penalty was called after Khanis had deflected a ball to the post and Bruna grabbed it. Her arms outstretched in outrage, Khanis and several other Australians sought to confront referee Gyoengyi Gaal of Hungary.
In the end, the incident had no impact since Australia went on to win the match, 3-2, in Bochum, Germany to safeguard its World Cup chances.
Khanis had already given the Australians the lead in the eighth minute, and a penalty kick in the 16th could have put the game away for good.
Instead, the Africans came back soon afterward when Anonman scored in the 21st minute to tie the game.
Australia went ahead for good with two goals early in the second half by Emily Van Egmond and Lisa De Vanna.
Australia coach Tom Sermanni was in a forgiving mood.
“I’ll take the referee out of the game; I mean, it’s not just about the referees,” Sermanni said.
The victory kept Australia alive for a quarterfinal berth after an opening loss to Brazil.
FIFA did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages asking for comment on the handball.
Gaal, a 36-year-old economist and sports manager, has been refereeing for 16 years and officiated the bronze medal game at the last World Cup in China.
BRAZIL IN QUARTERS
Marta scored twice in a 3-0 win over Norway in Augsburg to lead Brazil into the quarterfinals of the women’s World Cup.
The five-time FIFA world player of the year scored the first goal in the 22nd minute before putting the game out of reach in the 48th. “I hope I can keep it up during the next match,” Marta said.
On a wet and windy evening at the sold-out 26,000 capacity stadium, Norway started strong before Marta swung the game in the South Americans’ favor with the opening goal.
She might have had a hat trick if not for a good save from Ingrid Hjelmseth in the 69th minute.
“We simply didn’t have the speed that was required and, yeah, that set us back,” Norway coach Eli Landsem said.
Norway will play Australia on Wednesday to decide who advances along with Brazil.
Looking ahead to a likely quarterfinal against the United States or Sweden, Brazil coach Kleiton Lima said: “Any of the two teams will be a struggle.”
Marta was clear about her team’s goals.
“We want to get to the final; we would love to be champions,” she said.
Both sides found it difficult to create chances, with the slippery surface making the wet ball hard to control and Norway’s pressing game not allowing Brazil any time to settle early on.
With strong challenges coming from both sides, the Brazilians made a number of uncharacteristic errors. Ester was unable to control a long pass from Marta that bounced over her head out of play.
Norway’s best chances of the first half were from Madeleine Giske in the 18th minute, when the 23-year-old’s first shot was blocked by Aline’s face and her next was straight at Brazil goalkeeper Andreia.