Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland fail to qualify for World Cup finals despite spirited performance in Basel

Switzerland (1) 0-0 (0) Northern Ireland

By Gareth Hanna

Northern Ireland have failed to qualify for the World Cup finals despite a spirited display in Basel.

Michael O'Neill's men earned a 0-0 draw in Basel after a much-improved display, Switzerland edging over the line care of their contentious penalty and 1-0 win at Windsor Park on Thursday evening.

NI came within a whisker of forcing extra-time, Jonny Evans seeing an injury-time header cleared off the line.

Switzerland striker Haris Seferovic missed two early gilt-edged chances to put the tie to bed, fluffing two headers. Michael McGovern had to be alert when Zuber did find the target but the visitors created chances of their own, Chris Brunt testing the goalkeeper with two stern first-half drives.

Northern Ireland piled on the pressure during the second half with Steven Davis, Stuart Dallas and Conor Washington all driving on the visitors in Basel.

Washington and George Saville both had two chances to send the tie in extra-time during NI's purple patch. First Washington flicked a top header inches wide of goal then Saville's shot was too tame to trouble the keeper when he should have done better.

Jonny Evans even had an injury time header cleared off the line by Thursday's scorer Ricardo Rodriguez as Northern Ireland piled on the pressure.

In the end, it wasn't enough for NI, who at least delivered a nervy night with an impressive performance.

Here's the match as it happened:

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