Northern Ireland Came Desperately Close To A Late Leveller In Switzerland

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka takes aim at moaning Northern Ireland players

CONOR Washington's World Cup dream is over after Northern Ireland failed to overcome Switzerland on Sunday evening.

Not many teams would have run and pushed this hard in conditions that were nearly unplayable.

"It's unfortunate that we were not more efficient because it would have been easier".

'I think we are a good team and maybe a better team when compared to Northern Ireland.

"Our performance and reaction tonight was fabulous". That said, Switzerland were the better side by a considerable distance and it's hard to see how Michael O'Neill can turn this in his team's favour. "The players are devastated but I couldn't be any prouder".

The Green and White Army will spend years seething over Ovidiu Hategan's decision to give a spot-kick for a handball against Corry Evans at Windsor Park, with the Northern Irish unable to overcome the deficit in a 0-0 draw at St Jakob-Park.

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It was Rodriguez's turn next to venture forward and take aim with a chance that McGovern may have struggled to keep out had it been on target.

The Swiss, who finished second to Portugal in qualifying Group B despite winning nine of 10 matches, came out of the blocks quickly after half-time with Zuber seeing an effort blocked and left-back Rodriguez drilling narrowly wide.

Referee Ovidiu Hategan was criticised for awarding Switzerland a penalty after Xherdan Shaqiri's shot hit Northern Ireland defender Corry Evans, and following the match his boss Michael O'Neill admitted he was "bewildered" by the decision.

Washington and George Saville both had two chances to send the tie in extra-time during NI's purple patch.

The home side should have sealed a ticket to Russian Federation in the 85th minute, but Seferovic's poor day in front of goal went from bad to worse when he blazed over with the goal at his mercy.

Northern Ireland ramped up the pressure late on and had a number of half-chances, but when Jonny Evans aimed a header at goal he looked to have done enough but for an excellent clearance from AC Milan's Ricardo Rodriguez.

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