Switzerland came away with a well-earned point on Thursday night, as they drew 1-1 with the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.
The Republic of Ireland piled the pressure on the visitors from the first minute, forcing Manuel Akanji to concede a corner with a poor backpass just 17 seconds in. The Irish kept up their good pressure, though couldn’t get anything from it.
Switzerland had a few half-chances in the opening 45 minutes, but wasted their opportunities. Haris Seferović and Fabian Schär both squandered decent efforts while Granit Xhaka and Ricardo Rodríguez came close for the Schweizer Nati.
After a goalless first half, Switzerland stepped up in the second half and started to settle into the game more. However, for all of their chances and possession, they couldn’t break down a stubborn Irish defence as well as being unable to take their chances.
Finally, after 74 minutes Switzerland broke the deadlock with a beautiful goal. Denis Zakaria played the ball into Breel Embolo who laid it off, as Fabian Schär wonderfully guided his first-time shot into the bottom corner to give the Nati the lead late on.
The Swiss were determined to hold onto their slim lead, as the clock ticked down in Dublin. With a bad habit of losing concentration and conceding late goals, it happened again as the Republic of Ireland levelled it up with just five minutes to play.
James McClean whipped it into the box, and David McGoldrick powered his header past an unmoved Yann Sommer to secure a point for the Boys in Green with his first ever international goal in Dublin.
It was always going to be a different Swiss performance without Xherdan Shaqiri, who abstained from the national team. Vladimir Petković once again opted for a back three, with Breel Embolo and Denis Zakaria coming into the starting eleven.
Switzerland weren’t particularly outstanding on Thursday, and from the start they seemed to be missing something. Whether it was the thinness of the midfield or lack of cutting edge up front, Switzerland didn’t look like Switzerland.
They were lucky not to concede or crack under the Irish pressure, with some sloppy play at the back. Going forward 1 goal from 14 attempts doesn’t look good on paper, and there were times where they really should’ve converted their chances.
Nevertheless, the goal was absolutely beautiful. Quick, attacking free-flowing football finished off by Schär, a striker’s finish from a centre-half. It looked like the Swiss had dug deep to earn a huge win, but they couldn’t hang on and maintain their lead.
The Republic of Ireland did deserve a point, but it is concerning for Switzerland. Of all of the 4 goals conceded in their EURO 2020 qualifying campaign so far, all 4 have come after the 84th minute. Late goals have cost the Nati 4 points, and that could prove costly come the end of November.
Credit where credit’s due, the Republic of Ireland did play decently well. It was far from a fantastic performance, but the Boys in Green battled hard and frustrated the visitors all night long. When they went behind they had to up their game, and they scored an excellent equaliser to snatch a deserved point.
While a draw was the fair result, Switzerland will be annoyed that another late goal has denied them all 3 points. A point is alright away from home, but there is still work to be done ahead of the remaining qualifiers this week, next month and in November.
NATI PLAYER RATINGS
(Out of 10)
Yann SOMMER: 6
Fabian SCHÄR: 7
Manuel AKANJI: 5
Nico ELVEDI: 6
Ricardo RODRÍGUEZ: 6
Granit XHAKA: 6
Denis ZAKARIA: 7
Kevin MBABU: 7
Remo FREULER: 6
Haris SEFEROVIĆ: 5
Breel EMBOLO: 7
Albian AJETI: N/A
Admir MEHMEDI: N/A
Edimilson FERNANDES: N/A
The result sees Switzerland drop further down the Group D table, as they now sit 3rd behind the Irish and Denmark. It is a mixed start from the Swiss, and although they have two games in hand over the group leaders they have now dropped 4 points in the final 5 minutes.
Switzerland are back on home turf this Sunday, when they host Gibraltar at the Stade Tourbillon in Sion. It should be a comfortable win for the Swiss, though it should not be taken for granted.