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FOOTBALL

Switzerland qualify for World Cup last 16 after drawing 2-2 with Costa Rica

Switzerland moved through to the World Cup last 16 on Wednesday, after a draw over Costa Rica but will be without captain Stephan Lichtsteiner because of suspension.

Switzerland qualify for World Cup last 16 after drawing 2-2 with Costa Rica
Swiss midfielder Blerim Dzemaili (L) celebrates after scoring the opening goal. Photo: AFP

A 93rd minute own goal by the unfortunate keeper Yann Sommer from a Bryan Ruiz penalty gave the central American side a deserved 2-2 draw on a night of late drama in Nizhny Novgorod.

That wiped out a Swiss lead which had lasted only two minutes after substitute Josep Drmic slotted home to apparently give the Swiss an undeserved victory.

Earlier Blerim Dzemaili had thumped home in the first half to give Switzerland the lead against the run-of-play in the 31st minute against the team who finished bottom of Group E.

That goal was cancelled out by Kendall Waston's header in the 56th minute, the central Americans first goal of the tournament.   

The draw ensured Switzerland finished second in the group behind Brazil.

Costa Rica's midfielder Bryan Ruiz (L) celebrates after shooting a penalty leading to the Swiss goalkeeper scoring an own goal. Photo: AFP

But Switzerland will be left counting the cost after yellow cards for experienced defenders Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schaer means they will miss the game against Sweden in Saint Petersburg on July 3rd.

Lichtsteiner received a yellow card for a late tackle on Daniel Colindres in the 37th minute.

It was the Arsenal player's second yellow of the tournament after being booked in the opening game against Brazil. 

He was one of three players who had escaped a ban going into the match after the controversial “double eagle” goal celebrations in the fevered 2-1 victory over Serbia.

Then late on Schaer also received his second yellow card of the tournament, also ruling him out of the Sweden match.

The point was no more than Costa Rica deserved for a fine performance.

They continually stretched the Swiss defence in the first half and looked the most likely to take all three points in the second.

Switzerland took the lead when Dzemaili emphatically converted from close range after a fine headed knock-down by Breel Embolo.

It was the only goal Switzerland have so far scored in the first-half at the tournament.

The goal was harsh on Costa Rica after a frantic start saw them go close on several occasions, hitting the post and bar.

As early as the sixth minute, Celso Borges' header was brilliantly turned on to the post by Sommer.

Four minutes later Colindres hit the bar with a fine shot which beat the excellent Sommer but hit the bar.

Campbell and Oviedo also went close as the Costa Ricans dominated.

But finally they were rewarded by defender Waston's header from a second-half corner.

The goal ensured that Costa Rica would not be the only team who did not score at this World Cup.

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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