epa06845402 Daniel Colindres (R) of Costa Rica and Valon Behrami of Switzerland in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group E preliminary round soccer match between Switzerland and Costa Rica in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 27 June 2018.
Wednesday Jun 27, 2018. 21:57
Switzerland are safely through the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup after being held to a 2-2 draw by Costa Rica in their final Group E match at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Wednesday night.
The ‘Rossocrociati’ will be disappointed at twice allowing a lead to slip through their fingers against the ‘Ticos’, but the draw is enough to see them finish second in the pool behind Brazil (who beat Serbia 2-0 in a concurrent match) and move into the second round.
Costa Rica made a start which belied their status as an eliminated team, forcing Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer into a string of excellent saves.
His stops to keep out a curling shot from Joel Campbell, a thumping header from Celso Borges, and an angled drive from Bryan Oviedo were crucial to Swiss ambitions after they endured a nervy opening 20 minutes.
The European side also had the woodwork come to their rescue in the 10th minute, with Daniel Colindres firing off a powerful effort from a tight angle which had the better of Sommer but crashed back into play off the underside of the crossbar.
After settling into the game, the ‘Rossocrociati’ then claimed the lead with their first genuine chance: Stephan Lichsteiner’s cross was knocked down by Breel Embolo at the far post and Blerim Dzemaili drove the loose ball into the net to put Switzerland 1-0 up in the 31st minute.
The ‘Ticos’ blew a great chance to level the game early in the second half, as a cross from the right by Borges passed through a crowded penalty area before finding Campbell, but he sliced a left-footed effort well wide.
However, the Central American side restored parity in the 56th minute, with defender Kendall Waston scoring a towering header from a corner kick to make it 1-1.
Switzerland didn’t let the goal rattle them and they nearly reclaimed the lead in the 78th minute, with substitute Josip Drmic meeting a cross from Breel Embolo and sending a header onto the upright.
Ten minutes later the same duo combined and this time the team in red and white found the back of the net, with Drmic sweeping home Embolo’s low cross to beat goalkeeper Keylor Navas low to his left and put the Swiss 2-1 up.
Yet Costa Rica kept fighting and were rewarded with a penalty in injury time when Campbell was tripped up in the box. Bryan Ruiz took the spot kick and hit the crossbar, but the rebound struck Sommer and bounced into the goal for 2-2.
Switzerland will face Sweden in their last 16 clash on Tuesday next week, while Brazil will tackle Mexico on Monday.
Switzerland (1) 2 (Dzemaili 31’, Drmic 88’)
Costa Rica (0) 2 (Waston 56’, Sommer og 90+3’)
Switzerland: Sommer, Lichsteiner, Schar, Akanji, Rodriguez, Xhaka, Behrami (Zakaria 60’), Shaqiri (Lang 81’), Dzemaili, Embolo, Gavranovic (Drmic 69’)
Costa Rica: Navas, Gamboa (Smith 90+3’), Acosta, Gonzalez, Waston, Oviedo, Colindres (Wallace 81’), Borges, Guzman (Azofeifa 90+1’), Ruiz, Campbell