Swiss hold on as Zu­ber strikes to thwart Brazil

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - WORLD CUP -

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.

PIC­TURE: AN­DREW MEDICHINI/AP

POINT WIN­NER: Switzer­land’s Steven Zu­ber heads home his side’s equaliser against Brazil in Group E.

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