Switzerland secured a 1-0 aggregate over Northern Ireland with a contentious first-leg penalty. (Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via AP)
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Switzerland held off Northern Ireland to seal a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a 0-0 second-leg draw Sunday that secured a 1-0 aggregate playoff victory. Vladimir Petkovic's side wasted numerous first-half chances, but Ricardo Rodriguez's controversial first-leg penalty in Belfast proved enough for the Swiss to reach their fourth consecutive World Cup.Switzerland continued to push for an opening goal, but Gareth McAuley did well to help Blerim Dzemaili's shot over the crossbar, and Benfica striker Seferovic again headed a Shaqiri delivery off target.Northern Ireland almost made him pay with a late rally, but Rodriguez cleared a Jonny Evans injury-time header off the line as Switzerland clung on.
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