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Granit Xhaka qualifies for the World Cup

Granit Xhaka in action for Switzerland

Granit Xhaka is heading to the World Cup in Russia next summer, after his Switzerland side beat Northern Ireland over two legs in their qualifying play-off.

The midfielder played 90 minutes in each game, helping his country win 1-0 in Belfast on Thursday night, thanks to Ricardo Rodriguez’s second-half penalty.

Xhaka retained his place for Sunday evening’s return match in Basel, as Switzerland held Northern Ireland to a goalless draw at St. Jakob-Park. Again Rodriguez made the telling difference, clearing Jonny Evans’ goal-bound header off the line in the final few minutes of the game.

It means Switzerland are the first team to have qualified for the World Cup via the play-offs, with Croatia, Greece, Sweden, Italy, Denmark and the Republic of Ireland all in action over the coming days. 

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