Grp E: Xhaka goal ensures Slovenia miss out

Slovenia's hopes of qualifying for the World Cup were dashed by a 1-0 defeat in Switzerland on Tuesday night.

Granit Xhaka (R) of Switzerland in action

Granit Xhaka's 74th-minute goal earned the Group E winners victory and ended the visitors' hopes of claiming second spot in the pool.

Iceland held on to the play-off spot thanks to their 1-1 draw in Norway as Slovenia finished two points behind in third.

Switzerland went into the match knowing their place in Brazil next summer was already assured and it was no surprise it was Slovenia who started with greater urgency.

Nejc Pecnik fired in a shot after eight minutes which home goalkeeper Yann Sommer tipped over the bar.

Slovenia goalkeeper Samir Handanovic then punched away a Haris Seferovic header before parried away a Reto Ziegler free-kick.

The Inter Milan keeper was keeping his side in it at the end of the first half as he produced another fine save, tipping over Admir Mehmedi's shot following a corner.

The Swiss pressure continued after the break as Haris Seferovic headed over from a Barnetta free-kick.

Slovenia knew just one goal could put them in the play-offs, though, and Kevin Kampl brought a superb save out of Sommer.

They were undone in the 74th minute, however, as Xhaka received the ball from Blerim Dzemaili and crashed a finish into the top corner from 20 yards.

Slovenia responded well as they looked to stage a late fightback, Milivoje Novakovic and Zlatan Ljubijankic both heading against the bar in a mad goalmouth scramble, but they ran out of time as defeat ended their World Cup hopes.



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