Switzerland 2-0 Greece: Swiss Take Control In Basel

Swiss Loukas Vyntra’s sending-off before the break was the catalyst in Greece’s late meltdown in Basel.

With first-place on the line, Switzerland took the initiative as two second-half goals from Stephan Grichting and Marco Padalino gave Ottmar Hitzfeld’s men a 2-0 win and top spot in Group 2. 

Despite a valiant effort from a shorthanded Greek side, Switzerland were able to capture maximum points and now look favourites to claim direct qualification to the final stages of the FIFA World Cup next summer in South Africa. 

With Otto Rehhagel in search of his fiftieth win as coach of Greece, he was only finding his seat in the dug-out when striker Ioannis Amanatidis found himself in a glorious position. A header from Dimitrios Salpingidis caught the Swiss back-line off-guard as Salpigidis found Amanatidis alone in the box, but the Eintracht Frankfurt man shot a weak volleyed effort into the arms of Diego Benaglio. 

A vibrant home-crowd helped the Swiss to finally settle down after a dodgy few minutes, and within the nineteenth minute they were nearly rewarded. All-time leading scorer Alexander Frei nearly improving on his impressive scoring record for the Swiss national team, but a one-time effort was met by ‘keeper Kostas Chalkias. 

Greece, meanwhile, looked to silence the home-crowd with an effort of their own on twenty-five minutes. A slick dummy from Amanatidis was eventually returned by Angelos Charisteas, but the former fired his effort up and over Benaglio’s goal. 

While the Greeks looked clinical in attack, their defensive line didn’t appear to be as confident as an error by Sokratis Papastathopoulos allowed Tranquillo Barnetta to have a look at goal; however, a maze of bodies managed to deny the Bayer Leverkusen captain. 

As the Swiss prepared a corner-kick in result of Barnetta’s miss, Greece were left reeling a red-card to defender Loukas Vyntra. Carded for the second time on the night on a rather controversial call of shirt-tugging in the box, Vyntra’s first caution had come only seven minutes in when he committed a professional foul on Barnetta. 

Left to fight with just ten men, Greece’s already up-hill task of earning a positive result in Basel got all the much steeper, while the Swiss were given what looked to be a decisive edge just before the interval.

Forced to reshuffle his hand ahead of the second frame, Rehhagel opted to replace Salpingidis for the fresh Giorgos Samaras in attack – proving ‘King Otto’ was not ready to settle for a draw. 

Meanwhile, an unchanged Switzerland looked to profit from their strength in numbers; an early second-half chance for Frei signalling the Swiss attack was potent early in the second half. 

But Greece’s shortage of men didn’t tempt a defensive effort from the visitors; in fact, Greece’s Nikos Spyropoulos came the closest to finding a breakthrough on sixty-seven minutes. A crafty play from the Greek midfield saw Spyropoulos sneak in behind the Swiss defenders on the left side, but his effort was met by the extended arm of Benagalio before the ball tormented the Greek bench by trickling near the upright, yet eluding the guests of a goal. 

Not willing to let their advantage go to waste, a poised Swiss attack continued to make some noise when Hakan Yakin fired just wide of Chalkias’ goal. 

The next Swiss endeavour, however, saw the stadium erupt as a free-kick from Yakin was deposited past Chalkias by a quick-acting Grichting; the Auxerre man rising best to give the home-side a 1-0 lead on eight-three minutes. 

Deflated by the goal, Greece suffered a late meltdown as an energetic Switzerland continued to raid the Greek end. After a miss form Eren Deriyok, and a save by Chalkias on Hakan Yakin’s low strike, Marco Padalino got things right as he netted off a cross from Frei to seal a 2-0 win for the Swiss. 

A costly final ten minutes sees the Greeks lose ground on the Swiss, a reality that could come with harsh consequences as Greece looks to qualify for its first World Cup appearance since 1994.


~ by footballdirecta on September 6, 2009.

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