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Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka takes aim at moaning Northern Ireland players

12 November 2017

Northern Ireland will not be going to the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation, and the fact that the only goal in the tie came via one of the most bafflingly stupid refereeing decisions in recent times makes it particularly tough to take for the green and white army.

"We know what we have to do now", said Ward.

"It's unfortunate that we were not more efficient because it would have been easier".

"The Swiss will be confident because they have a good record here, but we also believe we can play better than what we showed the other night as well", he added.

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.

'To discuss the penalty, and whether it was a penalty or not, it is the decision of the referee and not of interest to us'. "The players are devastated but I couldn't be any prouder".

With heavy rain leaving the St Jakob-Park pitch in bad condition, Northern Ireland started strongly. The Northern Irish failed to register a single shot on target in Belfast but they threatened three times in the opening five minutes in Basel, most notably when Brunt's long-range effort was pushed behind by Yann Sommer.

In a high-tempo opening to the game, Haris Seferovic should have doubled the hosts' aggregate lead but headed Xherdan Shaqiri's vicious cross past the far post.

Northern Ireland did extremely well to finish second in their tough Qualifying Group, finishing above the Czech Republic and Norway to end up second only to the unbeaten Germans, but they were then given another hard task in the Play-Offs against Granit Xhaka's Switzerland side.

O'Neill sent on Kilmarnock winger Jordan Jones for his global debut with 15 minutes remaining.

It might have continued had Jonny Evans' stoppage-time header not been cleared off the line, fittingly, by Ricardo Rodriguez, the man who converted from 12 yards in Belfast to send Switzerland to their fourth straight World Cup.

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka takes aim at moaning Northern Ireland players