Michael O'Neill: We have to be fearless and grab chance

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill uses mind games to motivate his players

GETTYNorthern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill uses mind games to motivate his players

Switzerland took a giant step towards qualifying for Russian Federation 2018 on Thursday but needed a controversial penalty to earn a 1-0 win against stubborn Northern Ireland in the first leg of their World Cup play-off.

Northern Ireland were stunned when Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan pointed to the spot after Corry Evans turned his back to block Xherdan Shaqiri's acrobatic volley at point-blank range.

"The ball hits Corry more at the back of his shoulder than his arm".

Rodriguez ignored the jeering home fans and calmly sent Michael McGovern the wrong way in the 58th minute to put the Swiss in the driving seat in the two-leg tie for a place at next year's finals in Russian Federation, with the return in Basel on Sunday. He was six yards from the incident, he has no one in his line of sight.

Adding insult to injury, the yellow card given to Evans for his part in the penalty incident means he is suspended next time out.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is expecting his team to deliver a high-intensity performance as they look to book a ticket to the World Cup finals for the first time in 32 years on Thursday night. In such a defining moment in the match we feel very hard done by. The ball hits him on the back more than anything. I thought he had given an offside or something. "Nobody had claimed for it". Defender Johan Djourou Switzerland is long-term absentee but the coach could still form a better squad.

Evans himself described it as "disgraceful".

Longtime Red Sox Coach Dana LeVangie Named Team's New Pitching Coach
He was hardworking, selfless and energetic and always seen with a smile. "He cared about his teammates and was a natural leader". The Red Sox signed Flores for $3.1 million, making him the third-highest-paid Venezuela prospect ever, MLB.com reported.

The Swiss dominated the match despite having to contend with driving rain, a slippery pitch and boisterous home crowd.

The Swiss quickly got stuck in when Fabian Schaer was booked in the fifth minute for a wild late challenge on Stuart Dallas which O'Neill said should have been red.

It was an excellent penalty from Rodriguez, who found the corner after a stuttering run-up, but Switzerland were extremely fortunate to be awarded it in the first place.

A unsafe ball in the 18th from Shaqiri picked out Haris Seferovic and the striker's header was well saved by goalkeeper Michael McGovern.

"We have to process it, we have to forget about it".

The disputed goal came four minutes later and despite a more energetic tempo from the hosts afterward, they failed to create anything meaningful.

"If we play the way we can play, I don't see why we can't take a lead out there or at least a positive result", he added. "We are still in the tie. In the end the referee gave the penalty", he said.

Latest News