Swiss bow out with heads held high
Switzerland departed Euro 2008 with their heads held high after beating a second-string Portugal side 2-0 in Basel on Sunday. Hakan Yakin's second-half double provided the Swiss supporters with a measure of consolation after narrow defeats by the Czech Republic and Turkey had ensured their side would not go beyond the first round.
Already sure of top spot in group A, Portugal boss Luiz Felipe Scolari took the oppportunity to rest most of the players who will be back in Basel on Thursday to contest a quarter-final against Germany, Austria or Poland.
Portugal still showed enough flashes of the quality that has made them one of the tournament favourites to have put the match beyond reach before Hakan latched on to Eren Derdiyok's flick to fire the 71st-minute opener through the legs of Portuguese goalkeeper Ricardo.
Then, with seven minutes left, Tranquillo Barnetta was pulled down by Fernando Meira and Hakan slotted in the penalty to make sure Swiss coach Jakob Kuhn's ended his international career with a victory.
Ricardo, centreback Pepe and full-back Paulo Ferreira were the only survivors from the Portuguese side that started the 3-1 win over the Czech Republic in midweek.
In the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Deco, Ricardo Quaresma seized the opportunity to show that Portugal's reserves of skill run deep with an outrageous piece of trickery to create his side's first chance, in the 8th minute.
Shaping to cross from the left of area, the Porto winger swung his right boot around the back of left leg to deliver the ball, with astonishing accuracy, to the near post. Sadly Helder Postiga's finishing was not of the same standard and the striker's header comfortably cleared the bar.
Pascal Zuberbuhler was making his last international appearance in the Swiss goal and he was given the opportunity to demonstrate his reflexes remain sharp at the age of 37 when he turned Nani's freekick onto the bar after it had taken a late deflection off Pepe.
A long-range effort from Gokhan Inler and a Hakan Yakin header from the midfielder's corner gave Ricardo some work to do.
But Portugal were finding chances easier to come by and Postiga should have scored after Nani had caught Inler in possession on the left.
Advancing into the box, the Manchester United winger cut the ball back for the former Tottenham striker, who attempted to place the ball in the corner of the net but saw his tame shot blocked by Philippe Senderos on the six-yard line.
Ferreira was fortunate to escape with only a booking after his late lunge felled Behrami at full pace and Scolari opted to substitute the Chelsea defender minutes before half-time rather than risk another wild challenge resulting in suspension for Thursday's quarter-final.
Portugal's domination continued into the early stages of the second half, Nani striking the base of the post after being given a clear run at goal by Miguel Veloso's angled throughout ball before Quaresma's swerving shot produced another good save from Zuberbuhler.
It was to be the co-hosts who finished stronger, however. Inler was unfortunate when his 25-yard drive shaved the outside of Ricardo's right-hand post but Hakan's coolness in front of goal finally ensured the Swiss were rewarded for their efforts.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- The lightweight division will see another exciting match-up as Kiwi fighter Dan Hooker (20-9) faces former Bellator champion Michael Chandler (21-5).
- It wasn’t just the Indian fans celebrating but everyone in and around the world lauded the spirit shown by the Indian cricket team in Australia.
- Before he starts work with a preparatory camp likely to be in Dubai from March, Stimac spoke about why he is happy with what he has seen in ISL this season and more in this exclusive interview.
- Ashley Barnes scored from the penalty spot in the 83rd minute after the forward was brought down by goalkeeper Alisson Becker as Burnley became the first team to win in the league at Anfield since April 2017.
- With big names missing, the focus will be on Narsingh Yadav, who is making a return after serving a four-year doping ban.
- Sergio Aguero had already been self-isolating after being identified as a close contact of someone infected.
- The Czech Football Association has disputed claims that Cristiano Ronaldo broke the all-time goal-scoring record, insisting he needs another 62 to surpass Josef Bican’s tally.
- Thomas Bach reaffirmed his commitment to holding the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
- Dalot, 21, is at the heart of the defense of an AC Milan side which has been propelled to the top of the Italian league by the 39-year-old Ibrahimovic.