Sports

Switzerland clinch World Cup ticket after Northern Ireland draw

Switzerland clinch World Cup ticket after Northern Ireland draw

A 0-0 second-leg draw in Basel was not enough for O'Neill's men as Switzerland progressed to the finals thanks to a controversial penalty in the first leg.

Switzerland needed only a draw Sunday to advance to Russian Federation, and a tense 0-0 result in rain-soaked Basel was preserved by Rodriguez's goal-line clearance in stoppage time from Jonny Evans' header.

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.

Rodriguez scored that spot kick on Thursday, when Corey Evans was whistled harshly for an incident that few agreed with.

Michaeol O'Neill threw on Jordan Jones and Josh Magennis, hoping one of them could spark something in the final third.

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. "I know we can maybe play a little bit better and this maybe is the key for tomorrow".

FURIOUS Ollie Norwood feels Northern Ireland have been "shafted" out of a place at the World Cup.

Forward Haris Seferovic was the biggest culprit and was jeered off by the home crowd when he was substituted.

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"It's a shame", said Petkovic.

He has been linked with the Scotland job after transforming Northern Ireland's worldwide fortunes since taking over in 2012 but said: "I haven't even considered that".

In the first of four stoppage-time minutes, Evans rose at the far post to meet a cross that goalkeeper Yann Sommer misjudged to leave himself stranded. Evans got up at the far post, heading towards goal, but Rodriguez volleyed it off the line.

Now the challenge for arguably its most talented team in decades is to go beyond the last 16 at a major tournament. He said: "I've not even given it any thought".

Millwall midfielder George Saville is set to make his first start for Northern Ireland, but Stuart Dallas is likely to miss the game with a foot injury.

All three now have at least 50 worldwide appearances.

"For some of these players it's unlikely the World Cup will come round again", he said.