TalkSPORT World Cup play-off coverage on November 12, 2017

TalkSPORT World Cup play-off coverage on November 12, 2017

Three days after being on the wrong end of one of the most high-profile refereeing decisions in recent times, Northern Ireland drew 0-0 in Basle, meaning Switzerland qualified for Russian Federation with a 1-0 aggregate win.

"We don't always have top-level players but we've got top-level characters and you saw that tonight". He almost forced extra time with a header, but Ricardo Rodriguez came up with a heroic clearance to seal Switzerland's place in the World Cup.

Switzerland's marauding full-backs, Rodriguez and Stephan Lichtsteiner, had largely been subdued but the latter broke from defence into the Northern Irish box at the start of second half to set up a Zuber chance that Hughes blocked.

"This is a devastating moment but also a very proud moment", Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill, who described the manner of their defeat as "cruel", said.

But, the home side dug deep and held on to the draw they needed, denying a Northern Ireland side who are likely to once again highlight the impact of Rodriguez's controversial penalty in Belfast.

O'Neill's men piled the pressure on towards the end and looked particularly threatening with Dallas on the left flank, but they were ultimately guilty of trying to over play in the final third.

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Still, Switzerland dominated much of the first half and should have sealed its place at a fourth straight World Cup much earlier.

Though Petkovic declined to criticize the Benfica forward, who was booed by some fans when substituted, the coach acknowledged a regular weakness of his 11th-ranked team.

But the longer the game went on at 0-0, the more empowered Northern Ireland were.

Northern Ireland saw their World Cup dream die in Basel on Sunday evening, though it was a controversial penalty three days earlier that ultimately sent Switzerland through to Russian Federation.

All three now have at least 50 worldwide appearances.

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