Shaqiri Stunner Moves Swiss To Verge Of Euro Last 16 After Scotland Draw

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Cologne, Germany: Switzerland moved within touching distance of a place in the last 16 at Euro 2024 as Xherdan Shaqiri's stunning strike earned a 1-1 draw against Scotland on Wednesday.

Murat Yakin's side trailed to an early Scott McTominay goal that took a hefty deflection off Swiss defender Fabian Schaer.

But Shaqiri produced one of the goals of the tournament so far as the former Liverpool forward punished Anthony Ralston's woeful backpass with a brilliant curler from 20 yards.

With honours even in Cologne, the Swiss sit in second place in Group A with four points, two behind Germany after the hosts beat Hungary 2-0 earlier on Wednesday.

Switzerland, who defeated Hungary 3-1 in their opener, are not mathematically certain to advance to the knockout stages but they are in a strong position heading into their last game against Germany.

The Swiss have made the knockout stage in their last five major competitions.

With the best four third-placed teams qualifying for the last 16, Scotland remain in the hunt to reach the knockout rounds of a major tournament for the first time.

Steve Clarke's team restored their pride with a battling display that erased the bitter taste of a wretched 5-1 loss to Germany in the tournament opener.

Scotland have only one victory in their last 11 games, but a historic last 16 berth is still a possibility if they can improve their goal difference with a big win against Hungary.

Yakin had marched around the pitch an hour before kick-off gesticulating towards the red wall of Swiss fans in a bid to whip them into fever pitch, but it was Scotland who surfed the initial wave of emotion.

Primal scream

After the humiliation of their meek surrender in Munich, Scotland's fans were desperate for any sign of improvement, no matter how small, and winning their first corner of the tournament drew a primal scream from the Tartan Army.

That ear-splitting din set the tone for a thunderous Scotland start as they flew into tackles and pressed Switzerland into misplaced passes.

From one of those untimely Swiss mistakes, Scotland captain Andrew Robertson launched the sweeping break that gave them the lead in the 13th minute.

Callum McGregor's clever overlap gave him space inside the Swiss penalty area and he teed up McTominay for a shot that was heading straight at

goalkeeper Yann Sommer until Schaer needlessly stuck his foot out and diverted it into his own net.

If there was more than a touch of good fortune about Scotland's opener, they failed to make the most of the momentum as Ralston gifted the Swiss their equaliser in the 26th minute.

Playing a suicidal backpass without looking, Ralston sent Shaqiri clean through on goal and the 32-year-old caressed a sublime strike into the top corner from the edge of the area.

Shaqiri's majestic contribution rewarded Yakin's decision to drop Kwadwo Duah, who had scored against Hungary but made way for the former Liverpool attacker's seventh major tournament appearance, the most in his country's history.

Shaqiri is the only player to score at the last three Euros and the last three World Cups.

Revitalised by Shaqiri's moment of magic, Switzerland had the momentum and Dan Ndoye's curler forced a fine save from Angus Gunn.

Gunn saved well from Shaqiri's powerful strike and Ndoye squandered a golden opportunity to put Switzerland ahead when he scuffed wide with just the 'keeper to beat.

Scotland lost Kieran Tierney to a serious looking injury, but almost snatched the lead with a Grant Hanley header that cannoned off the post from Robertson's free-kick.

In a tense finale, Switzerland's Zeki Amdouni headed inches wide, but both sides finished satisfied with a point.


The Peninsula

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