Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Heartbreak as Northern Ireland pay price for a cruel penalty against Swiss

Heartbreak as Northern Ireland pay price for a cruel penalty against Swiss

Having converted the hugely controversial penalty which gave the Swiss a 1-0 win in Belfast on Thursday, Rodriguez made a timely intervention which prevented the tie going into extra time.

"We will take it match by match, opponent by opponent and we're not setting any limits".

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.

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The set-ball specialist is one of Europe's top left backs although he now finds himself in a struggling AC Milan side and had the misfortune to give away a decisive penalty when they lost the Milan derby last month.

Xhaka said: "I don't know why it is such a big topic and why there is so much discussion about it". Had this game not had the world riding on it, it would have been written off as a farce, given how hard it was to play football out there. We don't always have top-level players but we have top-level characters. He tried to force Switzerland back and Chris Brunt tested Yann Sommer with two rockets from 30-yards.

Northern Ireland coach Michael O'Neill said his team's exit after a spirited second-half Sunday was "a devastating moment". Shaqiri's shot forced Michael McGovern down low to save, Seferovic's header hit Zuber, Zuber himself had a shot saved by McGovern's legs before flashing another effort wide. Washington was tiring but next up he still spun his way down the left and passed to George Saville, who could not get enough power on his shot.

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Northern Ireland came within inches of forcing extra time in injury time at the end of the tie, only for West Brom defender Jonny Evans to see his header hacked off the line by Rodriguez.

Looking forward to the finals, he said: "We want to go as far as possible".

Rodriguez moved across the goalmouth toward the post and hooked the ball clear as he fell backward into the goal.

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