Result: Switzerland reach World Cup at expense of Northern Ireland

Result: Northern Ireland World Cup hopes over
© AFP
Switzerland reach the 2018 World Cup at Northern Ireland's expense with a goalless draw in Sunday's second leg in Basel for a 1-0 aggregate win.

Switzerland have reached the 2018 World Cup at Northern Ireland's expense with a goalless draw in Sunday's second leg in Basel for a 1-0 aggregate win.

The game began with plenty of attacking intent from both sides, Xherdan Shaqiri seeing an effort charged down in the first minute.

Chris Brunt and Stuart Dallas then weighed in with chances at the other end not long after and, in the sixth minute, Haris Seferovic headed wide from six yards out.

The remainder of the first half played out in a similar way, with no fewer than 16 attempts racked up by both sides by the half-time whistle, but despite this, the deadlock remained intact.

Switzerland came out all guns blazing shortly after the restart, with Aaron Hughes charging down Steven Zuber's effort before Ricardo Rodriguez blasted wide.

Northern Ireland countered through Conor Washington, who glanced wide on 54 minutes, and George Saville, who forced a save from Yann Sommer just after the hour.

With the tie on a knife's edge, both sides continued to push forward for a crucial goal and Michael O'Neill's charges came agonisingly close in injury time when Jonny Evans's header was cleared off the line by Rodriguez.

Ultimately the controversial penalty from the first leg in Belfast proved the difference between the two teams as Switzerland reached their fourth consecutive World Cup finals.

Gareth McAuley of West Bromwich Albion during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion at Britannia Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Stoke on Trent, England.
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