Switzerland earned a crucial win in their EURO 2020 qualifying campaign on Sunday afternoon, as they beat Gibraltar 4-0 in Sion.
The hosts started the game with the majority of possession, as they looked to settle into the game. Loris Benito’s effort cannoned off the crossbar, while Albian Ajeti and Edimilson Fernandes fired their shots well over the top.
Switzerland eventually found the back of the net after 38 minutes, as Denis Zakaria put them in front. Granit Xhaka whipped the ball in from a corner, and with goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin in no man’s land Zakaria headed into an empty net to give the Nati the lead.
Five minutes later and the Nati were 2-0 up, this time Admir Mehmedi heading in. Fabian Schär crossed it into the box, and as Goldwin came to collect it he was beaten to the ball by Mehmedi, who guided it into the bottom corner to give Switzerland a comfortable lead.
Ricardo Rodríguez made sure the Swiss were in control going into the break, as he made it 3-0 in first-half stoppage time. A loose ball from the Gibraltarian defence fell kindly for the Swiss defender, who drilled it first time into the bottom corner to make it three.
Nothing much happened in the second half, with Switzerland cruising to victory and putting it beyond reach for the visitors. The only noteworthy event of the half was a concerning injury sustained by Granit Xhaka, as the captain went down unchallenged.
Switzerland added a fourth goal with 3 and-a-half minutes to play, thanks to substitute Mario Gavranović. Mehmedi’s initial shot was parried out by Goldwin in goal, but it fell right into the path of Gavranović who smashed the ball into the roof of the net to cap off a successful night for the Swiss.
Following another frustrating result in Thursday’s 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland knew they had no excuse not to win. With the Schweizer Nati back on home soil and facing a country ranked 187 places below them, it was a must-win in Sion.
It was clear to see from the start that the Swiss would have to break down another stubborn defence, as they began by settling into the game. After a nicely taken corner and some poor goalkeeping helped them break the deadlock, Switzerland had found their feet and were ready to run riot.
Switzerland capitalised on some inexperienced defending and underwhelming goalkeeping to add two more before the break, including a sweet strike from Rodríguez. They were well in truly in control, as they cruised to a convincing 4-0 win.
It wasn’t an outstanding performance, but Switzerland certainly got the job done. Four goals, a clean sheet and a disciplined display saw them pick up a much-needed win, having gone 4 games without a win or in that case a clean sheet. It was mission accomplished in Sion, as the Swiss got a cherished win up in the Alps.
Gibraltar were no match for Switzerland, in quality or experience. They did well to keep them at bay in the opening half hour, but by the end of the half the game was over and done. Defensive errors cost them early on, specifically from substitute goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin who was at fault for 2 of the 4 goals.
Team 54 are now 5 defeats from 5 without a single goal scored, in what is proving to be a devastating campaign. Gibraltar will continue to fight to stay in contention for qualification, but on Sunday they were well and truly outclassed by Switzerland.
NATI PLAYER RATINGS
(Out of 10)
Yann SOMMER: 6
Fabian SCHÄR: 7
Loris BENITO: 6
Nico ELVEDI: 6
Ricardo RODRÍGUEZ: 7
Granit XHAKA: 6
Denis ZAKARIA: 7
Edimilson FERNANDES: 6
Admir MEHMEDI: 7
Albian AJETI: 6
Breel EMBOLO: 6
Mario GAVRANOVIĆ: 7
Renato STEFFEN: 6
Ruben VARGAS: 6
With Switzerland winning and Denmark being held to a 0-0 draw at Georgia, the Swiss remain 3rd in Group D. However they have closed the gap between them, the Danes and group leaders the Republic of Ireland, and with a game in hand they could return to the top of the table by next month.
Switzerland have their toughest two fixtures yet up next, as they return to action in October. The Nati start by taking a trip to Copenhagen to face Denmark on 12 October, before welcoming the Republic of Ireland to Genevas’s Stade de Genève on 15 October.
It will be a huge double bill next month, as the Swiss face their two toughest group opponents back-to-back. There will be no room for error whatsoever, and Switzerland will need to truly prove themselves to stay on course for EURO 2020.