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Switzerland Fire Blanks As They Fall At the First Hurdle

Switzerland 0-0 Honduras

Attendance – 28, 042

Switzerland exited the tournament very quietly as they failed to get past a plucky Honduras side in what was a drab, bore draw. Both sides failed to qualify from the group as a result of the goalless match, which never really sprung into life.

As Spain took care of their business by beating the Chileans, the Swiss needed a 2-goal winning margin over Honduras to leap ahead of Chile into 2nd place, but truth be told, they rarely looked like scoring once. Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side will leave South Africa bitterly disappointed, particularly after their heroic opening game victory over European champions Spain.

The opening exchanges offered very little in way of goal-mouth action, with a sloppy tackle from behind by Hendry Thomas, leading to the first yellow card of the match, the only noteworthy action in the opening 10 minutes.

Tranquillo Barnetta returned to the Swiss side after missing out against Chile, and he was heavily involved in the first half. A neat one-two played with Gokhan Inler provided Inler with an opportunity to shoot, but his shot was dragged wide. Soon after, a lovely inviting cross delivered by Barnetta, dropped onto Eren Derdiyok’s head as he dived forwards, but his header was directed wide as a goal looked likely.

Barnetta himself then had a shot on goal from long range, but it was gobbled up by Noel Valladares in the Honduras goal. However, in the midst of the Swiss’ attacking forays, Barnetta was the culprit, when conceding possession cheaply in midfield led to Jerry Palacios sliding in for his strike partner David Suazo, but his pass was too strong as Diego Benaglio charged off his line to sweep up.

Gelson Fernandes was booked on 34 minutes for hauling down Wilson Palacios as the Tottenham man broke forward quickly; Victor Bernardez fired a long way over the top from the resultant free-kick.

Switzerland were creating the better chances in the first period, but under par finishing was proving costly. As half-time approached, Derdiyok did well on the right wing to create space to whip in a cross to the far post, where strangely, Blaise Nkufo elected to chest the ball down rather than heading on goal, the veteran striker’s touch was heavy as the chance came and went.

Hitzfeld elected to withdraw Fernandes at half-time, with the more attack-minded Hakan Yakin taking his place, as the Swiss went in search of the goals to see them progress to the last 16.

 

Hakan Yakin looked to create the breakthrough 

Yakin was involved immediately as he played a smart give and go on the edge of the box, but his shot drifted a long way wide.

At the other end, Honduras very nearly took a surprise lead, as Edgar Alvarez brilliantly worked an opening from the right for Suazo, but his headed attempt bounced the wrong side of the post when he should really have scored. Suazo then added his name to the referee’s notebook after receiving a yellow card for a high tackle on Stephane Grichting.

 

 David Suazo heads past Benaglio and the post

The lively Barnetta was again the creative source for the Swiss, as first he jinked inside and shot straight at Valladares, and then his cross was poorly cleared to the feet of Derdiyok whose shot was drilled low and hard, but once again straight at the goalkeeper.

Alexander Frei joined the action in place of Nkufo as Hitzfeld looked to his leading scorer to break the deadlock. As the game began to stretch as the Swiss committed men forward, Honduras created the best opportunity of the match. A great counter-attacking play had Suazo breaking free, he played across to Alvarez, who controlled well and volleyed goalwards, only to be denied by a brilliant tip-over the bar by Benaglio.

An unconvincing bit of goalkeeping by Valladares led to a half chance for Frei, but he lifted his shot over. Seconds later, a great delivery from Yakin found Frei at the far post, but an awkward stabbed attempt flew over, when a header on goal appeared the better option.

Young talent Xherdan Shaqiri was thrown on for his World Cup debut, as the Swiss stared the World Cup exit door in the face. The final 10 minutes were largely uneventful for Switzerland, with a wayward Lichtsteiner shot their only attempt on goal, and a dangerous cross from Frei failing to find a Swiss foot.

The match could have ended in jubilant fashion for the Central American nation, as substitute Gregorie Welcome found himself in a goalscoring position, but his shot was deflected over. The resulting corner somehow evaded both Osman Chavez and Welcome as it bounced across the face of the goal.

And that was that, as both teams limped out of the competition in a disappointing contest that barely got started.

Switzerland’s display lacked flair and attacking precision as they never looked like creating the chances to score the goals they required to qualify from the group. Hitzfeld’s men will rue a missed opportunity after positioning themselves well to progress after the opening win against Spain.

 

 Eren Derdiyok left disappointed as the Swiss are eliminated

Teams

Switzerland – Benaglio, Lichtsteiner, von Bergen, Grichting, Ziegler, Barnetta, Huggel (Shaqiri, 78), Inler, Fernandes (Yakin, 46), Nkufo (Frei, 69), Derdiyok

Booked – Fernandes

Honduras – Valladares, Chavez, Figueroa, Bernardez, Sabillon, Thomas, Nunez (Martinez, 67), Wilson Palacios, Alvarez, Jerry Palacios (Welcome, 78), Suazo (Turcio, 87)

Booked – Chavez, Thomas, Wilson Palacios, Suazo

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