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Northern Ireland's World Cup dream ended by Switzerland

13 November, 2017, 02:44 | Author: John Swanson
  • Northern Ireland's Corry Evans is exasperated after Thursday night's penalty award

It meant Switzerland's disputed penalty for handball in the first-leg victory in Belfast made all the difference.

Northern Ireland came within inches of forcing extra time in injury time at the end of the tie, only for West Brom defender Jonny Evans to see his header hacked off the line by Rodriguez.

"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".

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And Ricardo Rodriguez sent a 25-yard just wide of the right-hand post soon after.

At the Brazil 2014 World Cup, Switzerland got to the round of 16 where they lost to Argentina.

"We will take it match by match, opponent by opponent and we're not setting any limits". But they did not and it would not have taken much to go differently - just a re-balancing of luck - for Michael O'Neill's men to be booking their flights to Russian Federation on Monday morning. Within minutes every player on the pitch was soaked in mud and there was always something slightly lower league about this duel to get into the biggest show on earth.

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Chris Brunt anxious the host first, forcing Yann Sommer into a flying save to keep a stunning 30-yard drive out of the top-right corner, before Seferovic inexplicably failed to direct Shaqiri's pinpoint cross beyond Michael McGovern with a glancing header.

"We are a good team, I think we are a better team than Northern Ireland, and tomorrow with all the fans and all the support we have here, we want to make them proud and we want to qualify for Russian Federation". Shaqiri's shot forced Michael McGovern down low to save, Seferovic's header hit Zuber, Zuber himself had a shot saved by McGovern's legs before flashing another effort wide.

At 26, Xherdan Shaqiri is heading to his third World Cup, while Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka and Rodriguez are both 25 and have matured as standouts from the 2009 Under-17 World Cup-winning team. Switzerland knew it and started to retreat as the second half went on.

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