Swiss leave Euro 2008 on a high
Hakan Yakin has scored twice to give Switzerland their first ever win at a European Championships with a 2-0 victory over Portugal.
Although Portugal were already through to the quarterfinals as Group A winner and the Swiss eliminated, the co-hosts ended the tournament on a high note despite losses in their first two matches.
Yakin opened the scoring at the St Jacob's Park stadium in Basel after a flicked pass by fellow striker Eren Derdiyok in the 71st minute, shooting through the legs of goalkeeper Ricardo from about 14 metres.
The striker added his second goal from the penalty spot in the 83rd minute after Fernando Meira was adjudged to have fouled substitute Tranquillo Barnetta.
"It was a deserved victory. We played three super matches and showed the public something," the 31-year-old Yakin said. "We wanted to play offensively and today it worked. It was a worthy farewell."
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.
Switzerland failed to win a match at the 1996 tournament in England and then in Portugal four years ago, gaining just one draw in each.
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 Zuberbühler, who started in place of usual No. 1 Diego Benaglio.
The veteran Zuberbühler, who is retiring after the tournament along with coach Köbi Kuhn, then saved well five minutes later from a low 20-metre 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.
Portugal, who were runners-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 minute, and Portugal went close three minutes later when Zuberbühler 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 right back Stephan 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 centre of the pitch from Gelson Fernandes and Gökhan 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, who were beaten 1-0 by the Czechs and 2-1 by the Turks, gave their fans something to cheer before bowing out of the tournament.
"It's unfortunate that we are eliminated," Yakin said. "The Czech Republic and Turkey were not 'überteams'. We were almost there."
Miracle of Geneva
In the other Group A match being played at the same time in Geneva, Nihat Kahveci scored two goals in three minutes late in the match to finish off an incredible comeback and give Turkey a 3-2 win over the Czech Republic to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Kahveci equalised in the 87th minute after an appalling mistake from goalkeeper Petr Cech and then added a second in the 89th.
Jan Koller had given the Czechs the lead in the 34th and Jaroslav Plasil added another in the 62nd. Arda Turan started the comeback for the Turks in the 75th.
Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Demirel was red-carded in injury time for knocking down Koller. Tuncay Samli replaced him in goal for the final seconds.
Turkey will play Croatia on Friday in Vienna in the quarterfinals.
swissinfo with agencies
Switzerland: Zuberbühler, Senderos, Müller, Magnin, Lichtsteiner (Grichting, 83), Yakin (Cabanas, 86), Inler, Fernandes, Behrami, Vonlanthen (Barnetta, 61), Derdiyok.
Portugal: Ricardo, Pepe, Miguel, Meira, Ferreira (Ribeiro, 41), Bruno Alves, Veloso (Moutinho, 71), Meireles, Quaresma, Postiga (Hugo Almeida, 74), Nani.
Switzerland is co-hosting the Euro 2008 football tournament with Austria from June 7-29.
The 31 games are being played in four cities in Switzerland (Basel, Bern, Geneva and Zurich) and four cities in Austria (Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Salzburg and Vienna). The final will be held in Vienna on June 29.
The finals will be broadcast in 170 countries and are expected to be watched by about eight billion cumulative TV viewers.
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