Switzerland secured an absolutely huge win on Tuesday night, as they beat the Republic of Ireland 2-0 in Geneva.
It took 16 minutes for Switzerland to break the deadlock, thanks to an instinctive finish from Haris Seferović. The Nati talisman picked up the ball on the edge of the box, drilling it into the bottom corner to put the hosts in front at the Stade de Genève.
The Republic of Ireland had a huge chance to equalise before the half hour mark, as a cross was headed on by James Collins. The Irishman was offside when he connected to the ball, to the frustration of Jeff Hendrick who was positioned in front of him in an onside position.
Darren Randolph had to make a decent save from Seferović, who headed on Ricardo Rodríguez’s free kick. Fabian Schär came within inches of doubling the Nati’s lead, but his powerful header came off the post just before half-time.
The second half calmed down a bit, though Ireland kept pushing for an equaliser as John Egan and Aaron Connolly had efforts on goal. Things then went from bad to worse for the Boys in Green, as Switzerland won a penalty for a handball. The culprit was captain Seamus Coleman, who was duly sent off for a second booking.
The ever-reliable Ricardo Rodríguez stepped up, as he looked to wrap up the win for the Swiss. However, the full-back was denied another goal from the spot, as Randolph produced a good save down to his bottom left to keep the deficit at one.
Switzerland kept on pushing, and finally got the crucial second goal in the dying seconds of the game. Renato Steffen played it through to Edimilson Fernandes, and his shot was unfortunately diverted goalbound by Shane Duffy’s last-ditch effort, as the Schweizer Nati wrapped up a massive three points in Geneva.
Saturday’s defeat to Denmark was a devastating one, leaving Switzerland knowing that there was no more room left for error. They had played well throughout the game in Copenhagen, but it was the reoccurring lack of concentration late on that cost the Nati.
Switzerland started very well at the Stade de Genève, looking as confident as ever. The opening goal was beautifully worked, with some great passing between players before Seferović finished it off with his fine finish to give the Swiss a deserved lead.
The Schweizer Nati were in complete control of the game from that moment on, and looked as if they could run riot in Geneva. Unfortunately, it was another case of not being able to take their chances, as Switzerland squandered so many fantastic opportunities.
There was thankfully no concern at the other end, with the Swiss backline remaining as focused as ever. The defence especially deserve praise for how they handled the last 10 minutes, as while they usually lose their concentration, they showed great character and defended excellent until the final whistle.
The penalty miss was tough, but the hosts kept on going. While they couldn’t take advantage of their dominance, they maintained their grasp on the game and kept fighting to the final whistle, scoring with practically the last kick of the game to seal what is a vital win.
The Republic of Ireland were second best all night, and found themselves struggling to keep up with their hosts for big spells of the game. Mick McCarthy’s side could seal automatic qualification with a win, though never looked close to going in front at the expense of Switzerland.
The Boys in Green were outclassed on Tuesday and didn’t threaten Yann Sommer’s goal enough, lacking that cutting edge when they did find their way into his box. It’s a tough defeat to take for the Irish and, while it certainly isn’t a truly devastating loss, it puts all the pressure on Ireland when they host Denmark in their final game.
NATI PLAYER RATINGS
(Out of 10)
Nati Man of the Match: DENIS ZAKARIA
Yann SOMMER: 6
Manuel AKANJI: 6
Nico ELVEDI: 6
Fabian SCHÄR: 7
Ricardo RODRÍGUEZ: 6
Granit XHAKA: 6
Denis ZAKARIA: 7*
Stephan LICHTSTEINER: 6
Admir MEHMEDI: N/A
Haris SEFEROVIĆ: 7
Breel EMBOLO: 7
Edimilson FERNANDES: 6
Remo FREULER: 6
Renato STEFFEN: 6
It is a huge win for Switzerland, as although they don’t move out of third in the Group D table, the gap at the top has been reduced to one point. With the Republic of Ireland and Denmark facing off on the final matchday and the Swiss with two games left, automatic qualification looks far more likely.
Switzerland finish off their EURO 2020 qualifying campaign next month, starting with the visit of Georgia to St. Gallen on 15th November. The Schweizer Nati then conclude the campaign on The Rock, travelling to winless Gibraltar on 18th November.