Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Switzerland clinch World Cup ticket after Northern Ireland draw

Switzerland clinch World Cup ticket after Northern Ireland draw

Petkovic's men were wasteful on the day, but ultimately that did not matter, with the Swiss holding firm at the back and ensuring its lead from Belfast - claimed thanks to Ricardo Rodriguez's contentious penalty - was enough to send Switzerland to Russian Federation.

They were again indebted to Rodriguez on Sunday when he cleared a goal-bound header from Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans.

O'Neill admitted that some of his long-serving players like Gareth McAuley, Aaron Hughes and Chris Brunt, could now call time on their worldwide careers. But over the two matches Switzerland dominated both possession and chances.

"We don't really set limits for us".

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So to have got this far, to the brink of the World Cup, must be a great source of pride for these players, staff and fans, although of course there were plenty of tears at the final whistle.

"I'm very satisfied with my team and with what they have achieved, not just today because it's been a long process", Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic said. As a manger you can't ask for more then what we got.

Switzerland were quicker and stronger and started to create the better chances, but could not finish Northern Ireland off. Zuber failed to turn in a Shaqiri cross, Gareth McAuley had to stab away Blerim Dzemaili's cross, Haris Seferovic hit one into the side netting.

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Seferovic glanced a free header wide and shot wide of the near post as the Swiss began to take control.

"Quite honestly, in the end no one is interested how this game against Northern Ireland was", Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaxa said.

O'Neill, who wouldn't be drawn on his own future, was quick to point to the gulf between the two sides and what that said about his team's character and spirit.

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