Michael O'Neill: Northern Ireland run an 'amazing achievement'

Michael O'Neill: Northern Ireland run an 'amazing achievement'

For the second time in four days, Rodriguez proved decisive as Switzerland clinched their two-leg playoff tie 1-0 on aggregate.

O'Neill was gutted that all that separated his team from Switzerland over 180 minutes in the play-offs was a highly-controversial first leg penalty.

This will be Switzerland's 11th qualification to the FIFA World Cup after making their debut at the second edition in Italy in 1934.

Switzerland and Croatia became the next nations to secure their spots at the 2018 World Cup.

They were again indebted to Rodriguez on Sunday when he cleared a goal-bound header from Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans.

"We are a good team, I think we are a better team than Northern Ireland, and tomorrow with all the fans and all the support we have here, we want to make them proud and we want to qualify for Russian Federation".

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He has been linked with the Scotland job after transforming Northern Ireland's worldwide fortunes since taking over in 2012 but said: "I haven't even considered that".

"There's a devastated bunch of players in there but I couldn't be any more proud of their efforts", he said.

"We don't always have top-level players but we've got top-level characters and you saw that tonight".

Millwall midfielder George Saville is set to make his first start for Northern Ireland, but Stuart Dallas is likely to miss the game with a foot injury.

O'Neill admitted that some of his long-serving players like Gareth McAuley, Aaron Hughes and Chris Brunt, could now call time on their global careers. They should have killed off this match rather than hanging on desperately at the end, hoping their visitors did not take it to extra time. Evans got up at the far post, heading towards goal, but Rodriguez volleyed it off the line. None had been born the last time Northern Ireland played at a World Cup, in 1986.

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