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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 August, 2004, 20:10 GMT 21:10 UK
Switzerland 0-0 N Ireland
NI boss Lawrie Sanchez
Sanchez has brought about a change in NI's fortunes
Northern Ireland extended their unbeaten run to six games by claiming a deserved scoreless draw against Switzerland in Zurich.

Lawrie Sanchez will feel his side could have won with David Healy, Stuart Elliott and Gary Hamilton all having great opportunities after half-time.

But Switzerland had a couple of chances in the first half and Ludovic Magnin hit the woodwork in the second period.

And home substitute Andre Muff also headed against the bar late on.

Northern Ireland went into the match on the back of the country's best run for 16 years and hoping to maintain confidence for next month's opening World Cup qualifier in Belfast against Poland.

After a quiet opening, the first chance fell to Switzerland's Johan Vonlanthen in the 13th minute after good work by Hakan Yakin but Irish captain Aaron Hughes made a brave block.

David Healy
David Healy had a second-half chance for Northern Ireland

Switzerland continued to press and Christoph Spycher's cross caused panic in the Northern Ireland defence but Vonlanthen just failed to make contact.

Johann Vogel was then just over the top with a 27-th minute effort as the home side dominated..

Ten minutes before the interval, the Irish had a great chance but from point-blank range, defender Stephen Craigan headed wide after a Keith Gillespie free-kick.

The Swiss showed urgency after half-time and Carroll had to react well to divert a fierce Vonlanthen shot over the bar within two minutes.

From the corner, the unchallenged Magnin headed against the woodwork.

The Irish had another escape when Carroll managed to block a Vogel effort which had deflected off Aaron Hughes.

We made a few good chances and were unlucky not to score
NI captain Aaron Hughes

Against the run of play, the Irish then had a glorious opportunity in the 67th minute when David Healy sprinted clear of the Swiss defence but his shot was tipped over by Pascal Zuberbuhler.

Elliott's close-range seemed certain to hit the net in the 72nd minute but Vogel somehow managed to clearthe ball off the line with the goalkeeper beaten.

The Northern Ireland pressure continued and sub Gary Hamilton should have scored minute but the Portadown striker's free-header from seven yards was well wide.

Late on, Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez gave a first cap to Chris Brunt although the Sheffield Wednesday winger had little time to make an impression.

Right at the death, the Irish should have been hit by a sucker-punch but sub Andre Muff headed against the woodwork after Carroll had failed to claim a deep cross.

Switzerland: Zuberbuhler, Haas, Muller, Murat Yakin (Henchoz 46), Spycher, Huggel (Magnin 46), Vogel (Lonfat 77), Wicky, Cabanas (Frei 82), Hakan Yakin, Vonlanthen (Muff 60).
Subs Not Used: Roth.

Northern Ireland: Carroll, Aaron Hughes, Craigan (Duff 78), Williams (Murdock 67), Capaldi, Gillespie (McVeigh 51), Sonner, Johnson, Elliott (Brunt 81), Healy (Hamilton 71), Smith.
Subs Not Used: Taylor.

Booked: Williams.

Att: 4,000

Ref: Nicolai Vollquartz (Denmark).

Swiss draw builds NI morale
18 Aug 04  |  Northern Ireland

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