Friday 19 July 2019

Swiss roll over Euro champions Portugal

Switzerland's forward Breel Embolo (L) heads in his team's first goal. Photo: Getty
Switzerland's forward Breel Embolo (L) heads in his team's first goal. Photo: Getty Newsdesk Newsdesk

Switzerland struck twice in quick succession to stun Euro 2016 champions Portugal 2-0 in last night's World Cup qualifier and hand them a first competitive defeat in two years under coach Fernando Santos.

Ninteeen-year-old Breel Embolo headed Switzerland ahead in the 23rd minute and Admir Mehmedi doubled the lead six minutes later as Portugal's defence, almost impregnable in France in June, dramatically unravelled.

Portugal were missing talismanic forward and record scorer Cristiano Ronaldo while Switzerland's Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka was sent off for a second bookable offence in stoppage time as tempers flared.

Sweden started life after Zlatan Ibrahimovic with a 1-1 draw against Holland.

Holland had dominated large spells of the first half, but found themselves behind on 43 minutes when Marcus Berg chipped the ball over the goalkeeper from the edge of the penalty area.

The Dutch levelled on 67 minutes when captain Wesley Sneijder slotted in after Daryl Janmaat's shot was saved - and thought they had won it in stoppage time with a header from substitute Bas Dost, which was ruled out for what looked minimal contact with the defender.

Elsewhere in Group A, Bulgaria snatched a dramatic 4-3 win over Luxembourg in Sofia with an injury time winner. Luxembourg, who led 2-1 after an hour, had equalised in the 90th minute before suffering late heartbreak.

On the U21 front, Marcus Rashford hopes he has sent a message to Sam Allardyce and Jose Mourinho after scoring a hat-trick in the England U21s 6-1 rout of Norway.

Rashford was left out of Allardyce's first senior squad for their 1-0 win in Slovakia.

It means that Rashford has now scored on his Man United U21 debut, his Premier League debut, his Europa League debut, his England senior debut and his England U21 debut.

Irish Independent

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