Yakin brace gives Kuhn a winning send-off

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 midfielder 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.

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 then produced a fine save to deny Yakin, 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.

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.

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 Yakin made no mistake from 12 yards, firing past Ricardo to put the result beyond doubt.

SWITZERLAND: Zuberbuhler, Lichtsteiner (Grichting 85), Muller, Senderos, Magnin, Behrami, Gelson, Inler, Vonlanthen (Barnetta 61), Yakin (Cabanas 86), Derdiyok.

PORTUGAL: Ricardo, Miguel, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Ferreira (Jorge Ribeiro 41), Fernando Meira, Veloso (Joao Moutinho 70), Raul Meireles, Quaresma, Postiga (Hugo Almeida 74), Nani.

Ref: Konrad Plautz (Austria).


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