In the second Group H game of the day, in Durban, closing the preliminary cycle of matches, Spain was far more aggressive, playing with confidence against a determined and well-organized, physical Swiss team. While Switzerland got the first corner after 8’, within a minute, Spain had 4 players looking dangerous in the Swiss penalty area.
Benaglio had to make a world class save on 24’ to deny Pique, who shot from close range in the goalmouth.
On 36’, Senderos, injured, was substituted by fellow central defender Von Bergen, using up one of Ottmar Hitzfeld’s options. Switzerland, however, did not limit its operations to defence and ended the first half with as many corner kicks as Spain – two.
If Spain repeatedly threatened to be dangerous in the first half, in the second, del Bosque’s team had had 4 corners by 50’, Benaglio and the Swiss defence having to work hard to keep out a more spirited Spanish attack.
Yet…on 52’ totally against the run of play, a lightning counter attack, a goalmouth scramble and Gelson Fernandes poked the ball home, 1-0 to Switzerland. Benaglio had to race off his line to deny David Villa on 59’ and on the hour, Del Bosque sent on Torres for Sergio and Navas, for Silva.
On 70’, after Spain’s eighth corner, just in the second half, Alonso sent a rocket against the woodwork which Benaglio would have had no chance to save.
73’, Switzerland could have made it two; this time it was Casillas, beaten by Derdiyok, who saw the ball rebound from his left post. Del Bosque sent on Pedro for the injured Iniesta.
Switzerland managed to hold out despite the extra time added on (the game was nearly 96 minutes long) and pulled off the shock of the day. The Swiss defence, a veritable mountain, has now gone 5 games in World Cup finals without conceding a goal. Now we will see whether it is Switzerland and Spain or Switzerland and Chile that face Brazil and…Ivory Coast?
Spain: Casillas, Pique, Puyol, Iniesta (Pedro), David Villa, Xavi, Capdevila, Alonso, Ramos, Sergio (Torres), Silva (Navas)
Switzerland: Benaglio, Lichtsteiner, Senderos (Von Bergen), Huggel, Barnetta (Eggimann), Inler, Nkufo, Grichting, Fernández, Ziegler, Derdiyok (Yakin)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had had a few fights and used strong language because of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014