World Cup qualifying: Northern Ireland held to goalless draw by Switzerland

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Steven Davis and Remo Freuler fight for possession

Bailey PeacockFarrell saved another penalty when Northern Ireland drew in a thrilling World Cup qualifier in Belfast.

NI, a team with a low strength, couldn't capitalize on a strong first-half performance. Their qualification hopes were thwarted.

After a blistering run, Shayne Lavery was just too wide and Haris Seferovic was saved by Peacock-Farrell.

Windsor Park was thronged with a passionate home crowd of 15,660 who returned in large numbers for the first occasion in nearly two years.

Baraclough is proud of NI's under-strength - "Everyone's become men"

NI moves above Bulgaria to third in Group C, but is still three points behind second-placed Swiss.

After a 4-1 win in Lithuania last week, and a 1-0 friendly victory away to Estonia on Sunday respectively, Ian Baraclough's team knew that victory would propel them above Switzerland to second.

They now face a tough task in qualifying for the World Cup finals. However, defeat would have ended all their hopes of a trip to Switzerland in October.

The home fans made up for any lost time by creating a great atmosphere before kick-off, and throughout the 90 minute match. The stadium was filled with cheers when the penalty save was announced.

However, it does not mean that Northern Ireland have gone eight competitive matches without winning at Windsor Park. This stadium was critical to their recent run in qualifying.

Northern Ireland fans were out in force at the National Stadium.

NI is calm and confident during the first half

Baraclough, the boss of NI, had asked his team to be clear-headed against Switzerland. The players responded with a remarkable first-half performance that was confident and self-assured.

The Swiss looked content in the first spell of sitting in, but Lavery's brilliant run in the ninth minute was a turning point. A vocal Windsor Park crowd reached even higher noise levels after a half-hour of almost constant singing.

The Blackpool forward, who was reminiscent of Linfield's famous goal against Qarabag in the Europa League at Belfast venue, burst past two defenders and fired his shot under pressure.

From that point on, the hosts took the lead until the 33rd minute, when Harald Lechner awarded a penalty after Michael Smith collided in the box with Ruben Vargas.

Seferovic's spot-kick from the left foot was too close for goalkeeper Peacock Farrell. He moved to his right in order to save a penalty, which was saved for the third consecutive season for country and club.

The Swiss, who were also missing key players like Granit Xhaka or Xherdan Shaqiri had to enter the game after that. However, Northern Ireland's back three stood firm, led by Craig Cathcart, Ciaron Brown, and Daniel Ballard.

Shayne Lavery was close to a successful attempt with an early attempt

As hosts fight for a point, Tempo falls

The second half started at a slower pace than the first 45 minutes. Even the Windsor Park home crowd took a while to find their voices.

Seferovic attempted a turn shot that was saved easily by Peacock Farrell. Nico Elvedi tried his luck from a distance, but didn't trouble the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper.

Baraclough demonstrated his desire for all three points with less than 25 minutes left by making a bold substitution. Conor Washington was replaced at right wingback by Michael Smith, and Dion Charles took over for Conor Washington.

The Swiss won the second half with Ricardo Rodriguez trying to score from 30 yards, but this time Peacock Farrell was able to collect it.

Northern Ireland made a penalty claim when it appeared that Elvedi might have handled the ball. He blocked Ali McCann's cross. Daniel Ballard had his header blocked from the corner.

The Swiss looked slightly more likely than the rest to score in the second half, but Northern Ireland continued their solid play and earned the point.