Knocked-out Swiss get compensation of win over Portugal

Switzerland 2 Portugal 0

Hakan Yakin’s slick second-half double gave Switzerland coach Kobi Kuhn a victorious send-off as the co-hosts bowed out of Euro 2008 with three points from their final match against a much-changed Portugal side.

The Young Boys midfielder, who also netted his team’s only other goal of the tournament in Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat to Turkey, struck 19 minutes from time and then again from the penalty spot 11 minutes later to secure the triumph.

The Portuguese may count themselves a little unfortunate, having hit the woodwork through both Pepe and Ricardo Quaresma, although Gokhan Inler was also denied by the frame of the goal for the Swiss.

With Portugal already guaranteed top spot in Group A and Switzerland knowing they could not climb off the bottom no matter what the result, there was, on the face of it, little to play for.

But both teams played their part in an entertaining affair, with the crowd certainly enjoying themselves and creating a party atmosphere inside Basle’s St Jakob-Park with a Mexican wave in the early stages.

Luiz Felipe Scolari made eight changes to his line-up from the team that started Portugal’s first two matches, with only goalkeeper Ricardo and defenders Paulo Ferreira and Pepe retained.

Kuhn, overseeing his last match after seven years at the Swiss helm, made two changes with retiring goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbuhler handed a farewell start in place of Diego Benaglio and Johan Vonlanthen coming in for Tranquillo Barnetta in midfield.

The first opportunity of the match arrived after seven minutes, when an audacious back-heeled cross from Quaresma was headed over the crossbar by Helder Postiga.

Ten minutes later, Pepe got a touch on Nani’s low free-kick but Zuberbuhler did enough to divert the effort onto the underside of the crossbar.

Ricardo also then had to be alert to tip Inler’s swerving blast over for a corner.

The action continued to flow from end to end, with Postiga’s shot from Nani’s pull-back seemingly destined for the bottom-right corner until Philippe Senderos’ intervention.

Senderos then slid in at the other end and was just inches away from connecting with Yakin’s free-kick.

Ricardo then produced a fine save to deny Yakin a second goal of the tournament, superbly palming away the midfielder’s header.

Ten minutes before half-time, Postiga was put through by Quaresma and had the ball in the net but the strike was ruled out for offside.

The game continued in much the same vein after the break, with both sides looking for the breakthrough but initially lacking the cutting edge.

Udinese midfielder Inler tried his luck in the opening seconds of the second period but Ricardo fisted the ball to safety.

Manchester United’s Nani then burst down the left and got his shot away and past Zuberbuhler, but his low strike hit the post.

Salzburg midfielder Vonlanthen – the youngest scorer in European Championships history with his goal against France four years ago – made way for Barnetta just after the hour mark and the substitute almost made an immediate impact but his attempt from Inler’s cross was bundled behind for a corner.

Inler again had a go from distance after 65 minutes and this time saw his fierce drive skim the outside of the left-hand upright on its way wide.

The Swiss, whose Euro 2008 campaign has been far from plain sailing with coach Kuhn’s wife hospitalised just prior to the tournament and star striker Alexander Frei ruled out of the competition in the opening match, were enjoying their best spell of the match.

Barnetta failed to capitalise when the ball broke to him 12 yards out, dragging his left-footed shot wide.

The home fans did not have to wait much longer for the deadlock to be broken, however, with the influential Barnetta playing in Yakin for a neat finish through the legs of Ricardo after 71 minutes.

And 11 minutes later the advantage was doubled.

Austrian referee Konrad Plautz pointed to the spot after Barnetta hit the turf under the challenge of Fernando Meira and man of the match Yakin made no mistake from 12 yards, firing past Ricardo and into the top-left corner to put the result beyond doubt.

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