History-making Swiss shock favourites Spain

Last Updated: Jun 17, 2010, 08:35 AM IST

Durban: World Cup favourites Spain crashed to a shock 1-0 defeat to unfancied Switzerland in their opening game of the tournament here on Wednesday.

A rock-solid defence and a tremendous goalkeeping effort
from Diego Benaglio saw the Swiss take the lead in the 51st
minute through Gelson Fernandes and sustain wave after wave of
pressure to hold on for the win in the Group H clash.

The victory was Switzerland`s first-ever over Spain in 19
games dating back 85 years.

Fernandes` scrambled goal was exactly the type pundits
said the Swiss might score against a Spanish team whose slick
passing game failed to convert territory and overwhelming
possessional advantage into anything concrete.

A long, straight goalkick was picked up by striker Eren
Derdiyok, whose path was blocked by an onrushing Iker
Casillas.

In the melee, the ball squirted into the path of defender
Gerard Pique who fell as he twisted trying to clear the ball,
and the Cape Verde-born Fernandes was left with the easiest of
tap-ins.

Derdiyok could have made it two for the Swiss but saw his
prod with the outside of his foot rebound off the post in the
74th minute.

Spain will be left kicking themselves after dominating
much of open play, while Vicente Del Bosque`s selection policy
will be questioned after the positive impact of strikers Jesus
Navas and Fernando Torres off the bench.

But the Spanish, fielding the backbone of the side that
won Euro 2008, did have their chances.

In the first tame 45 minutes, Pique`s shot was parried by
Benaglio, and David Villa made a real hash of a cross rather
than shooting.

Benaglio, who saw key Fulham defender Philippe Senderos
limp off with an ankle injury after half an hour, was tested
more as Spain pressed in the second-half after going behind to
Fernandes` goal.

In short succession, Villa was thwarted by a diving
Benaglio, Andres Iniesta saw a curling effort miss the posts
by a metre, and Torres twisted and fired high and wide.

Alonso then saw a 30-yard bullet of a strike come back
off the woodwork with Benaglio well beaten. Navas had a shot
well saved by the Swiss keeper and went narrowly wide shortly
after.

But the Swiss, often playing with nine of their 10
outfield players behind the ball, held on for the historic win
and gave themselves hope of progressing to the second round,
as they did four years ago in Germany.

Bureau Report