Web Desk(November 10, 2017): Switzerland and Croatia took enormous steps towards World Cup qualification, leaving both Northern Ireland and Greece with mountains to climb.
In Belfast, Northern Ireland, however, can feel hard done by. After holding off Switzerland for 57 minutes, a harsh penalty broke the deadlock and helped the Swiss to a 1-0 first leg win. Hosting Greece for their first leg clash, Croatia were dominant in a 4-1 win.
A Ricardo Rodriguez penalty was the difference at Easter Road, but Northern Ireland will feel their World Cup dreams are still alive as they battled to keep the score down to a single goal.Captain Steven Davis’ 100th cap was celebrated before kick-off and set the tone for a fantastic atmosphere, even if the action on the field gave the home fans little to cheer.
Switzerland were dominant in the first half, but it was after the break they really turned the screw.
Shortly after, the big Switzerland chance presented itself in controversial circumstances.
A harsh handball decision was given against Corry Evans, who had blocked a Shaqiri volley from close range with what appeared to be his shoulder. AC Milan left-back Rocardo Rodriguez stepped up to convert.