Swiss hold on as Zuber strikes to thwart Brazil
STEVEN ZUBER denied Brazil victory in their opening game of the World Cup as battling Switzerland fought back to snatch a famous draw in Rostov.
The Hoffenheim defender cancelled out Philippe Coutinho’s stunning first-half opener with a bullet header five minutes after the restart with the South Americans appealing in vain for a push on defender Miranda.
In their first game at the finals since their 7-1 humiliation by Germany four years ago, Brazil created enough chances to win the game, particularly amid a late flurry, but were unable to score a second as they failed to win their opening game at the tournament for just the fifth time in 21 attempts.
Switzerland started confidently and Blerim Dzemaili even threatened to shock the fivetimes champions with an early flick that flew just over the bar.
However, Tite’s men soon set- tled and after Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer had got his fingertips to Paulinho’s close-range shot following an exchange of passes between Coutinho and Neymar, they took the lead in style with 20 minutes gone.
Marcelo’s cross was cleared only as far as Coutinho, who took a touch before curling an unstoppable right-foot shot beyond the goalkeeper’s despairing dive and inside the far post.
They could have increased their lead 12 minutes before the break when Gabriel Jesus climbed to meet Neymar’s corner, but he directed his header harmlessly back in the direction from which it had come.
Switzerland responded in determined fashion, but might have conceded again in first-half stoppage time when defender Thiago Silva headed over from another Neymar delivery.
But Vladimir Petkovic’s men were back on terms within five minutes of the restart, much to the annoyance of the Brazilians.
Xherdan Shaqiri curled a cor- ner to the near post where Zuber climbed to power a header home amid ultimately futile protests that he had pushed marker Miranda on his way up.
Brazil’s reaction was concerted as Coutinho saw two shots blocked in quick succession before Neymar’s 58th-minute shot was deflected into the side-netting. But with the Swiss clinging on, the South Americans lacked composure and their efforts became increasingly desperate with even Coutinho falling victim when he sliced wide from a promising position.
Swiss hearts were in mouths within seconds when Jesus went down in the area although Mexican referee Cesar Ramos was unmoved.
POINT WINNER: Switzerland’s Steven Zuber heads home his side’s equaliser against Brazil in Group E.