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Northern Ireland v Switzerland: Controversy as Switzerland score divisive penalty to earn 1-0 win at Windsor

 

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Northern Ireland's Corry Evans (right) reacts after conceding a penalty for handball during the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Play-Off, First Leg match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 9, 2017. Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Northern Ireland's Corry Evans (right) reacts after conceding a penalty for handball during the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Play-Off, First Leg match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 9, 2017. Niall Carson/PA Wire.

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Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez scores from the penalty spot to give his side their first goal of the game during the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Play-Off, First Leg match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 9, 2017. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez scores from the penalty spot to give his side their first goal of the game during the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Play-Off, First Leg match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 9, 2017. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

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Northern Ireland's Corry Evans (centre) reacts after conceding a penalty for handball during the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Play-Off, First Leg match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 9, 2017. Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS:

Northern Ireland's Corry Evans (centre) reacts after conceding a penalty for handball during the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Play-Off, First Leg match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 9, 2017. Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS:

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Northern Irelands Josh Magennis in action during the World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park on November 9th 2017   (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Northern Irelands Josh Magennis in action during the World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park on November 9th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Northern Irelands Josh Magennis in action during the World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park on November 9th 2017   (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Northern Irelands Josh Magennis in action during the World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park on November 9th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

©PressEye-Northern Ireland- 9th November 2017
FIFA World Cup Play-Off - Northern Ireland V Switzerland at The National Football Stadium, Windsor Park.
Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty/Presseye

©PressEye-Northern Ireland- 9th November 2017 FIFA World Cup Play-Off - Northern Ireland V Switzerland at The National Football Stadium, Windsor Park. Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty/Presseye

©PressEye-Northern Ireland- 9th November 2017
FIFA World Cup Play-Off - Northern Ireland V Switzerland at The National Football Stadium, Windsor Park.
Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty/Presseye

©PressEye-Northern Ireland- 9th November 2017 FIFA World Cup Play-Off - Northern Ireland V Switzerland at The National Football Stadium, Windsor Park. Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty/Presseye

PACEMAKER BELFAST  09/11/2017
Northern Ireland v Switzerland  World Cup Play Off qualifier
Northern IrelandÕs Steve Davis during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 09/11/2017 Northern Ireland v Switzerland World Cup Play Off qualifier Northern IrelandÕs Steve Davis during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST  09/11/2017
Northern Ireland v Switzerland  World Cup Play Off qualifier
Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill  during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 09/11/2017 Northern Ireland v Switzerland World Cup Play Off qualifier Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Press Belfast 09-11-2017: Northern Ireland v Switzerland  World Cup Play Off qualifier.
Northern IrelandÕs fans pictured during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park.
Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Pacemaker Press Belfast 09-11-2017: Northern Ireland v Switzerland World Cup Play Off qualifier. Northern IrelandÕs fans pictured during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Pacemaker Press Belfast 09-11-2017: Northern Ireland v Switzerland  World Cup Play Off qualifier.
Northern IrelandÕs fans pictured during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park.
Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Pacemaker Press Belfast 09-11-2017: Northern Ireland v Switzerland World Cup Play Off qualifier. Northern IrelandÕs fans pictured during this evenings game at the National Stadium Windsor Park. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Pacemaker Belfast 9-11-17
Northern Ireland v Switzerland - World Cup Play-off
Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas receives treatment during this evenings game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 9-11-17 Northern Ireland v Switzerland - World Cup Play-off Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas receives treatment during this evenings game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

PMAKER

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 09th November 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas with Switzerland's Fabian Schar during Thursday nights World Cup Play Off at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th November 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas with Switzerland's Fabian Schar during Thursday nights World Cup Play Off at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

©William Cherry / Presseye

Northern IrelandÕs Josh Magennis in action during the World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park on November 9th 2017   (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Northern IrelandÕs Josh Magennis in action during the World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park on November 9th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Switzerland's Haris Seferovic and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley (right) battle for the ball during the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Play-Off, First Leg match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 9, 2017.Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Switzerland's Haris Seferovic and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley (right) battle for the ball during the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Play-Off, First Leg match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 9, 2017.Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

PA

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley (right) and Switzerland's Manuel Akanji battle for the ball during the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Play-Off, First Leg match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 9, 2017. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley (right) and Switzerland's Manuel Akanji battle for the ball during the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Play-Off, First Leg match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 9, 2017. Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

Northern IrelandÕs Steven Davis and Switzerland's Manuel Akanji in action during the World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park on November 9th 2017   (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Northern IrelandÕs Steven Davis and Switzerland's Manuel Akanji in action during the World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park on November 9th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Northern IrelandÕs Josh Magennis and Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez in action during the World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park on November 9th 2017   (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Northern IrelandÕs Josh Magennis and Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez in action during the World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park on November 9th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 09th November 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans during Thursday nights World Cup Play Off against Switzerland at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th November 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland fans during Thursday nights World Cup Play Off against Switzerland at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

©William Cherry / Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 09th November 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans during Thursday nights World Cup Play Off against Switzerland at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th November 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland fans during Thursday nights World Cup Play Off against Switzerland at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast.

©William Cherry / Presseye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 9th November  2017-Picture by Brian Little/ PressEye
Northern Ireland team against  Switzerland.  during Thursday night's FIFA European World Cup play-off  leg 1 match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 9th November 2017-Picture by Brian Little/ PressEye Northern Ireland team against Switzerland. during Thursday night's FIFA European World Cup play-off leg 1 match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Switzerland's fans in action during the World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park on November 9th 2017   (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Switzerland's fans in action during the World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park on November 9th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

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Northern Ireland's Corry Evans (right) reacts after conceding a penalty for handball during the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Play-Off, First Leg match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 9, 2017. Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Controversy has surrounded the first-leg of Northern Ireland's World Cup play-off as the Swiss take a 1-0 lead back to Basel.

The visitors dominated in Belfast but the manner of the 58th minute penalty, sent home by Ricardo Rodriguez, has angered the home support.

Referee Ovidiu Hategan pointed to the spot when a vicious Xherdan Shaqiri shot struck Corry Evans' arm. Windsor was silenced and the Northern Ireland players incensed. To make matters worse, the booking that followed rules Evans out of Sunday's second leg.

What do you think - make your mind up here:

Northern Ireland had endured a tough first half, dominated almost exclusively by the Swiss. Top-scorer Haris Seferovic, the Benfica forward, went closest with a header that tested Michael McGovern but other than that, their territorial advantage created relatively little fruit.

Granit Xhaka did fire a couple of identical early efforts over the bar but NI did a good job of hanging on until the break.

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And when the goal finally arrived it came with more than a hint of controversy.

George Saville did add a bright spark to Northern Ireland after his 65th minute introduction but no goals were forthcoming and the world number 11 team go back home with a crucial away goal and a clean sheet.

The second leg is in Basel at 5pm on Sunday.

 


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