Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez scores their first goal from the penalty spot.

Switzerland defeated Northern Ireland by a single goal in the first leg of their World Cup qualifier play-off at the Windsor Park in Belfast.

The Swiss team scored their lone goal in the second half of the game after the referee Ovidiu Hategan awarded them a controversial penalty , which A.C Milan’s left back Ricardo Rodriguez scored to give his side a vital away victory.

In the build-up to the penalty kick that was awarded to Switzerland : Steven Zuber sent a cross from the left-flank into Green and White Army’s second third of the field and a lurking Xherdan Shaqiri volleyed the ball towards the goal-post and it hit the back of Corry Evans, who had turned his back away from the ball . The referee ruled  that the ball had made contact with Evan’s hand : and wrongfully awarded a penalty to the White Cross.

In both halves of the game, the Swiss’ team was the more dominant side, they had more ball possession and more attacking intent.

The trio of Shaqiri, Zuber and Haris Seferovic gave torrid time to the home team’s defenders whenever they attacked their opponent’s eighteen yard box.

In spite of the boisterous support the Northern Ireland team got from thousands of their fans, they were unable to find the inspiration to beat their opponent, who paraded a side with players of great technical abilities.

The Swiss with today’s victory heads to the second leg that will played on their home gound with a one-goal advantage. And it will require a miraculous turn of events for the Green and White Army to beat their opponent in the second leg match in Switzerland.