Sunday 22 September 2019

Swiss through after stunning comeback win over Belgium

Belgium's Dedryck Boyata in action with Switzerland's Edimilson Fernandes. Photo: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann
Belgium's Dedryck Boyata in action with Switzerland's Edimilson Fernandes. Photo: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

Nigel Whittaker

Switzerland stunned Belgium as they came from two goals down to win a remarkable match in Lucerne 5-2 and pip their opponents for a place in the Nations League finals.

Trailing to two strikes from Thorgan Hazard, younger brother of Chelsea's Eden, the hosts struck back with a Haris Seferovic hat-trick and some inspiration from Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri.

It allowed the Swiss to snatch top spot in Group A2 courtesy of a superior head-to-head record and join Portugal and England in next summer's finals, with the final berth between France and Holland to be decided tonight.

Belgium, who needed only a draw to progress, looked to be coasting home after Hazard's two goals in the opening 17 minutes.

However, Ricardo Rodriguez's penalty got Switzerland back into the game and by half-time they were ahead after Seferovic twice found the target.

Switzerland needed to win by two clear goals to achieve their target and just past the hour Nico Elvedi gave them the daylight they needed as Belgium conceded four goals for the first time in eight years.

Treble

But the hosts were not content to sit on their advantage and six minutes from time Seferovic completed his treble.

In Group D2, Belarus confirmed their promotion with a 2-0 win over San Marino with goals from Stanislav Dragun and Anton Saroka. That rendered Luxembourg's result irrelevant as they drew 1-1 in Moldova.

Promoted Finland lost 2-0 to Hungary, with the other match in Group C2 seeing Greece lose 1-0 to already-relegated Estonia.

Meanwhile, Joachim Low intends to give youth a chance in the European Championship qualifiers following a miserable past few months in charge of Germany.

Die Mannschaft followed up a bitterly disappointing defence of their World Cup crown, in which they exited at the group stages in Russia over the summer, by being relegated from the top tier of the Nations League.

Holland's 2-0 victory over world champions France last Friday confirmed Germany's demotion from Group 1 of League A and Low has already turned his attentions towards Euro 2020.

First, though, his side will attempt to end this year on a high note tonight when they face Holland.

The Dutch failed to qualify for the World Cup but have bloomed since Ronald Koeman took charge in February and will qualify for the Nations League finals next June if they manage to avoid defeat in Gelsenkirchen.

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