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FOOTBALL

Spain stay unbeaten under Lopetegui with Swiss draw

Ricardo Rodríguez equalised for Switzerland as World Cup contenders Spain were held to a 1-1 draw at home in their final friendly before jetting out to Russia next week.

Spain stay unbeaten under Lopetegui with Swiss draw
Swiss defender Ricardo Rodríguez (R) celebrates a goal during the international friendly football match between Spain and Switzerland on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Real Sociedad right-back Alvaro Odriozola volleyed Spain ahead on 29 minutes in Vila-real with a fantastic strike from the edge of the area in just his third international appearance.

Andrés Iniesta drew a sharp save from Yann Sommer at his near post before the break, and the veteran midfielder went close again early in the second half before he was replaced to a warm ovation ahead of his move to Japan.

AC Milan defender Rodríguez, whose father emigrated from Spain to Switzerland, levelled for Vladimir Petkovic's Switzerland, also World Cup bound, on the hour with a tap-in from close range after David de Gea palmed away an effort by Stephan Lichtsteiner. 

Sommer then produced another fine stop to deny Valencia forward Rodrigo, while Nacho grazed the post with a curling strike late on as Spain's unbeaten run under Julen Lopetegui stretched to 19 matches.

“I'm happy on a personal level to have helped the team. We felt good out there, this match will help us to strike the right balance,” Odriozola told Spanish TV.

“If you had told me that (I'd have scored for Spain) a year and a half ago, I wouldn't have believed it,” said the 22-year-old who was playing for the Real Sociedad reserve team in the third division until 2017.

“That's life and that's football, it's the reward for working every day.”

Spain, the 2010 world champions, have one final warm-up game against Tunisia in Krasnodar next Saturday before their opening match of the tournament against Portugal on June 15.

They also face Iran in Kazan on June 20th and conclude their Group B campaign against Morocco in Kaliningrad five days later.

Switzerland take on Japan in Lugano next Friday ahead of flying out to Russia.

They play five-time World Cup winners Brazil in their first match in Group E on June 17th, with games to come against Serbia and then Costa Rica.

FOOTBALL

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame

A Swiss super fan who has shot to fame after images of him watching Switzerland’s win over France went viral told the media he was unaware of his viral fame - but that he was overwhelmed with the world’s attention.

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame
Image: Twitter.

Like most Swiss football fans, Luca Loutenbach’s Monday evening – highlighted by a surprise upset win over the current World Champions and tournament favourite France – went about as well as you could have expected. 

But while his side were putting on the pressure through late goals to push the game into extra time, Loutenbach’s image was being shared across the world. 

Two pictures of Loutenbach, juxtaposed from before and after Switzerland scored an equaliser in the 90th minute to send the game to extra time, were widely shared. 

The images were even shared by Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, who congratulated Switzerland and said the images summed up the beauty of football. 

On Tuesday, Loutenbach spoke with Swiss tabloid Blick to tell the story. He said he had no idea about the images as his phone had no reception in Romania – and only found out after the game. 

“I didn’t have a network during the game. But some fans around me were connected to the internet and quickly realized what was happening. What an incredible buzz!” said the man from the canton of Jura. 

While Switzerland have made it further than they have in their history in the tournament, Loutenbach is far from a bandwagon fan. He told Blick he’s seen around 50 national team games before. 

“It’s the most beautiful day in the history of Swiss football, let’s not be afraid of saying it. It is the accomplishment of the immense work of the ASF (Federation), of (coach) Petkovic and of the whole team” he said. 

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