Switzerland end Northern Irelands World Cup dream

Switzerland confirmed their place at Russia 2018 with a 0-0 draw in their 2nd leg play-off game against Northern Ireland last night. The result means that the tie was effectively decided by Ricardo Rodriguez’s controversial penalty in the first leg that gave them the 0-1 win in Belfast 4 days ago.
Credit to Northern Ireland as they approached this must win game with all their heart and after failing to register a shot on target during their first encounter at Windsor Park, they played a lot more expansive and were unlucky with Chris Blunt missing quite a few chances in a rain soaked first half. This pressure almost told in the final minutes as defender John Evans was so close to forcing extra time, but crucially had his header hacked off the goal line by that man Rodriguez.
Elsewhere Croatia qualified for their 5th world cup finals with a goalless draw against Greece, but with a 4-1 lead from the first leg in Zabreb and Greece needing a small miracle to proceed the contest was all but over anyway.
With the Greek national press unleashing some scathing attacks on the nation side after their performance in the first leg, the Greeks were a much-improved team but still failed to find a shot on target, with Croatia’s Ivan Perisic registering the only one, hitting the post from 30 yards out.
This means that Croatia have now qualified for 10 of the 12 major tournaments since their independence, whoever they are yet to see what limitations UFEA may impose on them as Croatia have had a number of incidents in the past with crowd trouble and with the agreement of the Greek federation it was decided that only home fans were allowed to attend the play off legs.

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