Switzerland (1) 0-0 (0) Northern Ireland: O'Neill's side suffer World Cup heartbreak at the final hurdle

The Green and White Army put up a brave fight in the second leg of their play-off tie against the Swiss but failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia.

Switzerland (1) 0-0 (0) Northern Ireland: O'Neill's side suffer World Cup heartbreak at the final hurdle
The Swiss players celebrate qualifying for the World Cup at the final whistle (Picture source: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA / Getty Images)
Switzerland
0 0
Northern Ireland
Switzerland: Sommer, Lichtsteiner, Schar, Akanji, Rodriguez, Xhaka, Zakaria, Shaqiri (Freuler, min. 80), Dzemaili (Mehmedi, min. 61), Zuber, Seferovic (Embolo, min. 86).
Northern Ireland : McGovern, Hughes, Evans, McAuley, Brunt, Norwood (Magennis, min. 75), Davis, Saville, Ward (Jones, min. 74), Dallas, Washington (McNair, min. 82).
REFEREE: Feliz Brych (GER). Booked: Brunt (min. 7), Seferovic (min. 72), Evans (min. 78).
INCIDENTS: 2018 World Cup Play-Off second leg between Switzerland and Northern Ireland, held at the St, Jakob-Park Stadium in Basel.

Switzerland just about hung on to seal their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia after defeating a valiant Northern Ireland side 1-0 on aggregate over their two legged playoff.

Michael O'Neill's men went into the game on the back of a 1-0 home defeat to the Swiss on Thursday night and they knew it was going to be a tough ask away from home but they gave it a good go at the St. Jakob-Park Stadium in Basel but couldn't find the all important goal to level the game up.

Therefore, the Swiss as they were expected to do, managed to qualify for the World Cup after a debateable penalty in the first leg, while the Green and White army certainly gave their all to make something of the game but it wasn't to be.

The visitors almost got off to the perfect start

In terms of the game itself, the visitors knew they had to play much better than they did in their home leg and they started really positively and they almost scored on two separate occasions in the first five minutes of the game.

The first chance fell the way of Jamie Ward after a great floated cross from Steven Davis found the winger but he failed to direct his header on target.

Chris Brunt had the other chance for the visitors whenever he received the ball a long way outside the box, before unleashing a great strike towards goal but it was well-saved by Yann Sommer.

 

The hosts had chances to score before half-time but failed to do so

After the early scares though the the hosts started to gain control of the game and but some poor finishing from Haris Seferovic and good saves from Michael McGovern, they could have put the game out of sight.

Seferovic missed two massive chances in quick succession as he failed to hit the target from close range, while McGovern had to make two great saves from Xherdan Shaqiri and Steven Zuber.

Therefore at the break, the game was goalless somehow with both sides playing good football at times which made the game open but the O'Neill knew his side had to score in the second half or they were out.

The hosts started the second half brightly but the visitors quickly pinned them back

The second half started with the hosts once again causing the hosts problems as the scorer of the goal from the first leg Rocardo Rodriguez went within inches of the opening goal as his long range striker went just wide of the goal.

After that chance, though, the visitors played much better in the second half and they almost got the opening goal when Conor Washington's header from a cross from Ward went just wide of the goal after a good counter attack opened the Swiss up.

The visitors kept up their great work for the remainder of the second half but they were being denied by some great defending from the hosts.

 

A brilliant goalline clearance from Rodriguez denied Evans from taking the game to extra time

The visitors wanted one last chance in the game and they got it in injury time when a cross into the box from Brunt wasn't dealt with by Sommer and Johnny Evans had a header cleared off the line by Rodriguez as he was falling to the ground.

That turned out to be the last chance of the game for the visitors as they just fell short at the final hurdle of qualifying for the World Cup, while the Swiss will be happy to qualify for the fourth successive World Cup in a row.