Switzerland beat Portugal 2-0

Hakan Yakin scored two goals on Sunday to give Switzerland their first ever win at European Championship with a 2-0 victory over Portugal.

updated: June 22, 2008 07:07 IST
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For Switzerland, it was a nice ending to hugely disappointing European Championship. Portugal will be concentrating on bigger matches that lie ahead.

Hakan Yakin scored two goals on Sunday to give the co-hosts their first ever win at a European Championship with a 2-0 victory. Portugal was already through to the quarterfinals as Group A winner, but the result at least meant that Switzerland finally gave its fans something to cheer about, after being the first team eliminated.

"It was a deserved victory. We played three super matches and showed the public something," Yakin said. "We wanted to play offensively and today it worked. It was a worthy farewell."

The 31-year-old striker scored at St. Jakob Park after a flicked pass by fellow striker Eren Derdiyok in the 71st minute, shooting through the legs of goalkeeper Ricardo from about 14 meters (yards). Yakin added his second goal from the penalty spot in the 83rd after Fernando Meira was adjudged to have fouled substitute Tranquillo Barnetta.

It sealed Switzerland's first win in three European Championship appearances, albeit against a Portugal team that rested eight starters, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Deco. The Swiss gained just one draw at the 1996 tournament in England and also in Portugal four years ago.

"We should have actually replaced 11 (players) rather than eight," Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "We ran too many risks during this match. I made a mistake. I made a big mistake."

Until Yakin's goals, Portugal winger Nani had missed probably the best chance in the 53rd when he shot wide when one-on-one with goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbuehler, who started in place of usual No. 1 Diego Benaglio.

The veteran Zuberbuehler, who is retiring after the tournament along with coach Koebi Kuhn, then saved well five minutes later from a low 20-meter (yard) shot by winger Ricardo Quaresma.

"I was very happy, obviously, but it also was a bit of a downer," Kuhn said. "We really deserved more in the first two matches and that would have been enough for us."

But he was still proud of his team's effort.

"They gave something to the fans. I always say that's the most important thing," he said.

Switzerland almost stumbled into the lead in the second half when Derdiyok's cross was bundled just past the post by defender Pepe, who nearly scored an own-goal. The home side came even closer in the 65th as Gokhan Inler hit the outside of the post with a hard shot from 25 meters (yards).

Portugal, which was runner-up four years ago and reached the final four of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, will play Austria, Germany or Poland in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

The Portuguese had little to worry about after winning 2-0 against Turkey and 3-1 against the Czech Republic, who met in the other Group A match to decide second place. Turkey scored two late goals to win 3-2 and qualify alongside Portugal, leaving Switzerland to finish last in the standings.

Portugal should have scored in the first half, having a goal ruled out by a dubious offside decision and being denied a seemingly valid penalty.

Stephan Lichtsteiner got away with barging striker Helder Postiga in the area in the 15th, and Portugal went close three minutes later when Zuberbuehler pushed Pepe's flick from a free kick by Nani onto the crossbar.

Postiga then had the ball in the net after 36 minutes, but Austrian referee Konrad Plautz whistled for offside even though replays showed Postiga to be level with Lichtsteiner when the pass was played.

Nani and Quaresma caused Switzerland numerous problems by constantly switching wings, while the Swiss showed their usual tenacity in the center of the field from Gelson Fernandes and Gokhan Inler. However, the co-hosts also displayed a lack of creativity up front, not least because of the inclusion of winger Johan Vonlanthen over regular playmaker Barnetta _ who was carrying an injury.

But the late goals at least meant that the Swiss improved on their unlucky losses to the Czechs and Turks, when late goals led to 1-0 and 2-1 defeats. It was Portugal's first loss to Switzerland since a 2-1 defeat in a friendly in 1982.

"It's unfortunate that we are eliminated," Yakin said. "The Czech Republic and Turkey were not 'uberteams.' We were almost there."