One Step Closer

Xherdan Shaqiri

ATTACKER Xherdan Shaqiri admits he does not know whether Switzerland deserved to win the penalty that secured them a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland last night.

Ricardo Rodriguez scored from the spot to hand the visitors a one-goal advantage heading into the second leg of their World Cup Play-Off on Sunday.

The spot-kick was rewarded in controversial fashion when Shaqiri’s shot was blocked at close range by the shoulder of Corry Evans.

There was little the Blackburn Rovers man could do to get out the way of the strike, however the referee pointed to the spot despite no protests from the Potters man or his Swiss teammates.

In truth, Switzerland were worthy of their victory after dominating proceedings at Windsor Park and are one step closer to qualifying for next summer’s tournament in Russia.

"I don't know if it was a penalty or not," Shaqiri told reporters after the game.

"I tried to get a shot on target and I don't know if he touched it with his hand or not. In the end the referee gave the penalty. That is football.

"We controlled the game over 90 minutes, had a lot of possession and created chances. We played much better than Northern Ireland and deserved to win."

"It is, for us, the best result to get. We knew it would be difficult. They have their own fans behind them.

“We are looking forward to Basel, the second leg and trying to win again to reach the World Cup."

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Xherdan Shaqiri