Swiss roll over Ecuador with last-gasp strike
Posted Tuesday, June 17 2014 at 01:00
Substitute Haris Seferovic (pictured) finished off a breath taking box-to-box counter-attack in stoppage time to give Switzerland a thrilling 2-1 win over Ecuador in their World Cup Group E opener on Sunday.
A brilliant block tackle by Valon Behrami in his own area instigated the break, which was allowed to continue by an excellent decision from Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov after the midfielder was body-checked.
The move continued with Ricardo Rodriguez crossing for Seferovic to finish in the 93rd minute, sending the Swiss fans into raptures and deflating the South Americans, who had played their part in another World Cup attack-fest - albeit lacking the quality seen in earlier matches.
“It was a dream end to the game for us and is very important for the morale of the team,” Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld told reporters.
“It will give us some extra strength for the next two matches,” he added, looking ahead to clashes with France and Honduras.
The Swiss had promised more attacking endeavour with an exciting young side after dour, defensive displays in their last two World Cups, but it was the South Americans who struck first in the 22nd minute after pre-match concerns about the Europeans’ soft centre proved founded.
Ecuador striker Enner Valencia easily stepped away from Johan Djourou to meet Walter Ayovi’s free kick from the right and Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio was stuck on his line as the ball fizzed into his six-yard box.
The Swiss, who beat Spain in their opening match in South Africa four years ago but failed to reach the knockout stages, thought they had taken the lead when Josip Drmic poked home from close range with 20 minutes left but the strike was wrongly ruled out for offside.
Undeterred, both sides continued to go toe to toe like heavyweight boxers and Ecuador substitute Michael Arroyo almost snatched the lead with an 86th-minute deflected free kick that unconvincing Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio did well to palm away.