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   June 16, 2002 | 2100 IST


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Spain's Camacho critical of referee

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Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho was highly critical of the referee after his team scraped to a 3-2 victory over Ireland on penalties to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

Swedish referee Anders Frisk awarded Ireland two penalties in normal time, the first of which was missed by Ian Harte and the second converted in the final minute by Robbie Keane to earn his side a 1-1 draw.

"A referee can't blow for that kind of penalty in the World Cup at the end of 90 minutes but then again you have to accept it," Camacho said. "The Irish were putting pressure on us at the end and the referee was blowing for everything meaning they could do what they wanted."

Camacho said his side, who led for much of the game after Fernando Morientes's eighth-minute goal, had suffered in extra time as they clung on for the draw.

"We had two injured players and we were playing with nine men," he said. "In the penalties we suffered a bit less because they made a mistake early on but we left a specialist penalty taker (Gaizka Mendieta) until the end just in case we needed him.

Mendieta converted Spain's fifth and spot kick in the shootout to seal victory after Ireland's Matt Holland, Kevin Kilbane and David Connolly, and Spain's Juan Carlos Valeron and Juanfran failed with their attempts.

But Camacho thought his team should have wrapped up victory in normal time.

"We had a lot of chances to decide the game earlier," he said. "It was not a penalty and we had three or four chances ruled out for offside."

Camacho said either of Spain's potential quarter-final opponents, Italy or South Korea, would be tough.

"Either team would be difficult," he said. "Italy are a rival we know well. They know how to play World Cup football.

"Korea have a lot of motivation which makes anything possible for them. Both teams are very dangerous."

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