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Jul 4, 2011

Incredible handball amazes Matildas coach

Arguably the most brazen and blatant handball in football history left coach Tom Sermanni amazed after the Matildas were incredibly denied a penalty in their World Cup clash with Equatorial Guinea.

The incident occurred in the 16th minute of Sunday's group game in Bochum, Germany, which Australia won 3-2.

Australia were leading 1-0 at the time through a Leena Khamis goal and another attempt from the lively striker hit the post.

Equatorial Guinea defender Bruna picked up the ball on the rebound and held it in both hands for several seconds.

Astonishingly neither Hungarian referee Gyoengyi Gaal or her assistants apparently witnessed the incident and Australia's pleas for a penalty were rejected.

"Everyone on the (Australian) bench was up, I must have been distracted with something else because I actually missed it live," Sermanni told AAP.

"People were describing it to me, I thought 'no you're kidding.'

"Then I saw it on the replay at the end of the game.

"It was surreal, I think that would be the best way to describe it.

"She must have thought it had gone out of play, because it bounced off the post.

"One of their players reckoned that the girl thought she heard the whistle and that would make sense.

"It was amazing."

Sermanni chuckled at the recollection of the incident, but it would have been no laughing matter if Australia hadn't won the game.

Indeed Equatorial Guinea equalised just a few minutes after the incident but second-half goals to Emily Van Egmond and Lisa De Vanna secured the win and moved Australia up to second spot.

FIFA match official Karen Espelund admitted the referee's error after the game.

"We have spoken to the referee. She said that she's very sorry for not seeing such a clear handball," the ESPN Soccernet website reported Espelund as saying in Germany's kicker magazine.

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