Northern Ireland have succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Switzerland in Thursday night’s World Cup qualifying playoff at Windsor Park.
The visitors struck the winner just before the hour via a controversial penalty conceded by Corry Evans and converted by Ricardo Rodriguez.
Michael O’Neill’s charges began brightly as Kyle Lafferty set up Josh Magennis just two minutes in, but Fabian Schar was equal to the forward’s effort.
Just a minute later, Steven Davis’s square ball into the centre was struck by Lafferty but the chance was wasted as the effort flew wide.
Switzerland improved as the game went on, however, and went on to dominate possession as well as weighing in with several chances, but it remained all square at the break.
The winner came in the 57th minute in contentious circumstances as Xherdan Shaqiri’s snap shot brushed Evans’s upper arm inside the Northern Ireland area, prompting Ovidiu Hategan to point to the spot.
Full-back Rodriguez stepped up, stuttered his run and sent Michael McGovern the wrong way, the visitors subsequently going on to see the game out to take the advantage into Sunday’s second leg in Basel.