Switzerland beats Spain 1-0 in World Cup
Switzerland pulled off a shock victory at the World Cup on Wednesday, beating European champion Spain 1-0 in their opening group match.
Gelson Fernandes bundled the ball into the net in the 52nd minute in one of Switzerland's few attacks, ending Spain's 12-match winning streak and handing the Spanish team only its second loss in 50 games.
``Today wasn't our day,'' Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said. ``We have two games ahead of us. We have to find a way to win them.''
Spain, one of the pre-tournament favorites, dominated possession throughout the match, but could find no way through Switzerland's determined defense.
``We had plenty of chances but they defended very well,'' Spain defender Gerard Pique said. ``I don't think we adapted adequately to their game.''
Eren Derdiyok created Switzerland's goal by surging through the center of Spain's defense and getting around goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Gerard Pique's tackle stopped Derdiyok, but Fernandes pounced on the loose ball and forced it into the net.
``To be fair, I'm not used to scoring goals, so I was a bit surprised,'' Fernandes said. ``It was a bit of luck.''
At the final whistle, Fernandes fell to his knees and raised both arms to the sky. The entire team then went to the small section of Swiss fans at the Moses Mabhida Stadium and saluted them as they cheered and rang cow bells.
``These were three unexpected points,'' Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said, before defending his side's defensive play as the only way to nullify Spain.
``If you play an attacking game against Spain, you'll lose and suffer one goal after the next,'' he said.
History was not on Spain's side: Only two of the last eight reigning European champions had won their opening match at the World Cup - France in 1986 and Germany in 1998. And Spain has not advanced past the World Cup quarterfinals since its best finish of fourth in 1950.
Derdiyok nearly doubled the Swiss lead in the 75th minute when he shrugged off Carlos Puyol's tackle and poked the ball past Casillas, but the shot hit the post.
Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso came closest to equalizing when his powerful drive in the 70th minute hit the cross bar.
``It was a match we tried to play without abandoning our style,'' Del Bosque said. ``We tried to play heroically and they fell back and tried to stop us.''
Spain had 63 percent of possession, and had eight shots on goal to Switzerland's three.
But when Spain did find the target, they encountered Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, who made a string of saves.
``He's a world class keeper with one-on-one situations,'' Hitzfeld said. ``He was decisive to our win.''
Spain's misery was compounded when Andres Iniesta was substituted in the 77th after a hard tackle from Stephan Lichtsteiner. Del Bosque said the midfielder was not seriously hurt.
Switzerland was knocked out of the last World Cup on penalties by Ukraine in the round of 16 without conceding a goal in the tournament. The Swiss have now gone 490 minutes without conceding a World Cup goal.
Switzerland achieved its first victory in 18 attempts against Spain despite missing injured captain Alex Frei and midfielder Valon Behrami.
Spain was lifted before kick off by the return from injury of Iniesta, but the Barcelona midfielder could not provide the spark to ignite his country's attack.
Del Bosque brought on Liverpool striker Fernando Torres in the 62nd minute, but he too could find no way through the Swiss wall of defenders.
David Villa was Spain's most dangerous forward, but the top scorer from the European Championship in 2008 repeatedly saw his efforts blocked or go wide.
Villa passed Lichtsteiner in the 10th minute, but goalkeeper Diego Benaglio dived at his feet to snuff out the chance. Then his free kick deflected wide off the wall after Stephane Grichting pulled down Iniesta just outside the penalty area.
In an indication to Spain's sputtering forward play, it was center back Gerard Pique who came closest to breaking the stalemate when Iniesta's through ball in the 24th minute set him free and he sent a low shot that Benaglio saved.
Villa showed the frustration creeping into Spain's game when he flung both arms into the air after Iniesta had sent a shot high over the bar shortly before halftime.
A minute later, it was Villa who was guilty of failing to finish a nice move when he made room for himself on the left by cutting inside the sliding tackle of substitute Steve von Bergen, but saw his attempted lob drift well wide of the goal.
The pattern was repeated after the break as Spain laid siege to the Switzerland goal but could not find the net.
``This is just the first match, everyone agrees that we have to fight to get out the group,'' Del Bosque said. ``No one in the team has ever talked about getting to the final or winning. We hit an obstacle and we'll get over it.''
Chile beat Honduras 1-0 in the other Group H match. If Spain only manages to finish second in the group, it could face Brazil in the round of 16, assuming Brazil wins its group.
Spain: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Joan Capdevila, David Silva (Jesus Navas, 62), Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets (Fernando Torres, 62), Xavi, Andres Iniesta (Pedro, 77), David Villa.
Switzerland: Diego Benaglio, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Philippe Senderos (Steve von Bergen, 36), Reto Ziegler, Stephane Grichting, Gokhan Inler, Benjamin Huggel, Tranquillo Barnetta (Mario Eggimann, 90), Gelson Fernandes, Blaise Nkufo, Eren Derdiyok (Hakan Yakin, 79).