Swiss players celebrate their qualification at the end of the FIFA 2018 World Cup play-off second leg football match between Switzerland and Northern Ireland at St. at St. Jakob-Park Stadium on November 12. -AFP
Switzerland is going to the World Cup after left-back Ricardo Rodriguez denied Northern Ireland hope in both games of their playoff at either end of the field. Croatia qualified for the 2018 World Cup on Sunday by holding Greece to a 0-0 draw in the second leg of their play-off in Piraeus for a 4-1 win on aggregate.
Zlatko Dalic's men will be playing in their fifth World Cup in Russia next year, having only once failed to qualify in 2010. "We had a good match in Zagreb but it was difficult here. If we had won 1-0 (in the first leg) it would have been very difficult tonight," said Croatia coach Dalic, who only took over from the sacked Ante Cacic last month.
"We are a very good team and it would not be just for us not to go to Russia."A strong defensive performance, especially in the second half, was enough for Croatia to leave the Karaisiakis Stadium with a comfortable victory over the two legs after winning 4-1 on Thursday.
"It was a tough match for us. We did not play at our level, but more important is the result," said Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric.In each leg of Switzerland's 1-0 aggregate win, the key incident involved one of Northern Ireland's Evans brothers. Switzerland needed only a draw Sunday to advance to Russia, and a tense 0-0 result in rain-soaked Basel was preserved by Rodriguez's goal-line clearance in stoppage time from Jonny Evans' header.
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