Record champions Brazil frustrated by Switzerland

Record champions Brazil frustrated by Switzerland
epa06816865 Neymar of Brazil (R) and Valon Behrami of Switzerland in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group E preliminary round soccer match between Brazil and Switzerland in Rostov-On-Don, Russia, 17 June 2018.

by Austin Ditlhobolo

Monday Jun 18, 2018. 09:11

Brazil were frustrated by a stubborn Switzerland side in their first 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E match which ended in a 1-1 draw at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia on Sunday.

The draw left Canarinho and La Nati placed second, and third respectively on the Group E standings after match day one.

It was La Nati, who threatened first through attacking midfielder Blerim Dzemaili three minutes into the game after Canarinho defence was caught ball watching.

Speedy winger Xherdan Shaqiri whipped a cross into the box and Dzemaili headed the ball over the crossbar with Brazil goalkeeper Allisson Becker rooted to the ground.

Brazil then took control of the match and Neymar played a low cross from the right for Paulinho, who scuffed his shot just wide from a couple of yards out 13 minutes into the game.

It took something special from Philippe Coutinho to break dreadlock seven minutes later. The playmaker cut inside from the right and he curled the ball into the top corner to make it 1-0 to Brazil.

Canarinho then sat back and this allowed La Nati to attack in numbers in search of the equalizing goal, but it found it difficult to unlock the Brazil defence which marshaled by Thiago Silva.

The experienced central defender nearly doubled Brazil’s lead on the stroke of half-time when he connected with Coutinho’s corner-kick, but he directed the ball just over the crossbar.

Brazil were 1-0 up at the interval courtesy of FC Barcelona playmaker Coutinho’s stunning long-range strike.

Switzerland came back from the half-time break rejuvenated and they managed to restore parity just five minutes into the second-half with the Brazil defence exposed.

Shaqiri’s corner-kick was headed home by Fabian Schar, who rose highest inside the Brazil box and made it 1-1 much to the delight of the La Nati fans inside the stadium.

Tite, the Brazil head coach, then made a change with Fernandinho replacing Casimero just before the hour-mark as record five-time World Cup champions looked to restore their lead.

Coutinho had a chance to grab his brace in the 69th minute after bursting into the Switzerland box, but the diminutive attacker fired wide of target without troubling keeper Yann Sommer.

Gabriel Jesus, the Canarinho main striker, went down in the La Nati box in the 73rd minute and he wanted a penalty for a tug, but the Mexican referee Cesar Arturo Ramos did not entertain it.

The momentum was with Brazil in the dying minutes of the game and Coutinho forced Sommer into a comfortable save from a free-kick in the 86th minute.

Neymar, who had a relatively quiet game, got to the end of Willian's cross a minute later and he headed the ball towards goal, but it was straight at Sommer.

The Germany-based shot-stopper then pulled off a great save to deny Brazil substitute Roberto Firmino in the 90th minute to ensure that the game ended in a 1-1 stalemate.

Brazil (1) 1 (Coutinho 20’)
Switzerland (0) 1 (Zuber 50’)

Brazil: Becker, Silva, Miranda, Casemiro (Fernandinho 59’), Jesus (Firmino 79’), Neymar, Coutinho, Marcelo, Danilo, Paulinho (Renato Augusto 67’), Willian.

Switzerland: Sommer, Lichtsteiner (Lang 86’), Akanji, Seferovic (Embolo 80’), Xhaka, Behrami (Zakaria 70’), Rodriguez, Zuber, Dzemaili, Schar, Shaqiri.

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