Swiss ease World Cup worries


Switzerland have beaten Moldova 2-0 in a qualifying match for the 2010 football World Cup.

This content was published on April 1, 2009 minutes

Wednesday's efficient if uninspiring performance in Geneva means Switzerland and Greece both have 13 points after six of ten games.

However, the Greeks, who beat Israel 2-1 on Wednesday, lead Group 2 on superior goal difference.

After a poor start to their World Cup campaign – which included a jaw-dropping loss to Luxembourg – Switzerland have got back on track and now have reasonable chances of travelling to South Africa.

Switzerland's coach Ottmar Hitzfeld played exactly the same team on Wednesday that beat Moldova by the same score on Saturday.

The 22nd best team in the world, according to Fifa's rankings, took the lead in the 20th minute when Blaise Nkufo connected well with a cross to head the ball into the net. A better keeper would have stopped the ball, but the early goal took the pressure of the hosts.

Swiss captain Alexander Frei then scored the game's final goal in the 53rd minute when he tapped in from two metres after a defensive mess.

Moldova remain rooted to the bottom of Group 2 and their defensive weaknesses explain why.

"We played in a very disciplined and intelligent manner," said German-born Hitzfeld after the match. "This victory is thoroughly deserved and puts us in a good position."

However, Hitzfeld will know that only 2-0 against a team ranked 98th in the world isn't good enough and that his team will have to raise their game if they want to qualify for the World Cup – and then, once qualified, actually get anywhere.

Five-month rest

Switzerland now have 13 points from four wins, one draw and one loss.

In other Group 2 action on Wednesday Latvia beat Luxembourg 2-0.

Switzerland now have a five-month rest until their next World Cup qualifier, a crucial game against Greece, on September 5.

The Swiss have four more matches and must finish top to be guaranteed qualification.

swissinfo with agencies

Switzerland's remaining matches

September 5: Switzerland - Greece

September 9: Latvia - Switzerland

October 10: Luxembourg - Switzerland

October 14: Switzerland - Israel

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