Washington's World Cup hopes dashed

Pass master Oliver Norwood and Swiss ace Danis Zakaria

Pass master Oliver Norwood and Swiss ace Danis Zakaria

Switzerland full back Ricardo Rodriguez was also eligible to play for Chile and Northern Ireland might have been wishing on Sunday that he had.

Switzerland have qualified for the Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018 World Cup after playing a 0-0 draw against visiting Northern Ireland in the second leg of the European play-off on Sunday. Within minutes every player on the pitch was soaked in mud and there was always something slightly lower league about this duel to get into the biggest show on earth. For a thrilling half-second the ball was going in and the game was going to extra-time.

Switzerland were quicker and stronger and started to create the better chances, but could not finish Northern Ireland off. Zuber failed to turn in a Shaqiri cross, Gareth McAuley had to stab away Blerim Dzemaili's cross, Haris Seferovic hit one into the side netting.

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.

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"We have the World Cup ticket, that's what counts".

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

"It's a shame", said Petkovic.

In the first of four stoppage-time minutes, Evans rose at the far post to meet a cross that goalkeeper Yann Sommer misjudged to leave himself stranded.

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Now the challenge for arguably its most talented team in decades is to go beyond the last 16 at a major tournament.

Michael O'Neill has admitted to being "proud but disappointed" after Northern Ireland's hopes of reaching the World Cup for the first time since 1986 were crushed by Switzerland.

"Quite honestly, in the end no one is interested how this game against Northern Ireland was", Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaxa said.

"We don't really set limits for us".

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All three now have at least 50 global appearances.

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