Euro 2008 – Win over Portugal restores Swiss pride
Switzerland ended their Euro 2008 campaign with their heads held high by beating Portugal 2-0 in Basel.
Two second-half goals from Hakan Yakin gave the joint-hosts, who were already eliminated before the match at St Jakob Park kicked off, their first win.
Switzerland’s desire to exit the tournament well shone through after the break, and after an extended bout of pressure with 20 minutes to go Erin Derdiyok’s deft touch put Yakin through on goal and the striker blasted past Ricardo to spare the hosts the ignominy of finishing with no points.
Yakin then scored his and Switzerland’s third of the tournament form the penalty spot after Fernando Meira fouled substitute Tranquillo Barnetta in the final ten minutes.
The result does not change Portugal’s status as winners of Group A, but the break in their momentum may yet affect them in the quarter-finals.
Switzerland fielded the same outfield players that started their first two matches, while Portugal manager Luiz Felipe Scolari made eight changes to his first-choice side.
Two of those new inclusions, Nani and Ricardo Quaresma, caused Switzerland plenty of problems on the wings.
Nani in particular was involved in many of Portugal’s best moves. He hit the post when put clean through on goal in the second half, and also had two strong claims for a penalty turned down by Austrian referee Konrad Plautz.
With a quarter of an hour gone, the Manchester United winger was hacked down by Stephan Lichtsteiner, and then later fell down dramatically after being held inside the box by a defender.
Former Tottenham striker Helder Postiga, playing as the lone frontman in place of Nuno Gomes, put two headers wide from inviting crosses and also saw his clinical stab past goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbuehler incorrectly ruled out for offside.
Although Portugal enjoyed the bulk of the possession, Switzerland had chances of their own, with Derdiyok’s header forcing an acrobatic save from Ricardo and Philippe Senderos unlucky not to get a telling touch on the end of an inviting cross.
In the second half Switzerland manager Jakob Kuhn introduced Tranquillo Barnetta in place of the disappointing Johann Vonlanthen, and almost immediately the young striker’s presence had a positive effect on his team.
Gokhan Inler hit the post from distance and Barnetta himself pulled a shot wide from a good position, before Yakin’s double gave the Swiss people reason to remember the tournament with fondness.