Switzerland, Italy draw 1-1 in final WCup warmup
Switzerland and defending champion Italy will head to the World Cup without a win in their warmup matches, after drawing 1-1 on Saturday.
Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, whose team has not won since qualifying last October to play in South Africa, said he was satisfied with the result and performance.
``It was important for us that the team was rewarded for its tough preparation,'' Hitzfeld said.
Switzerland took a 10th minute lead when Gokhan Inler fired a powerful shot into the bottom left corner from 18 meters (20 yards).
Italy leveled in the 14th when Fabio Quagliarella's header went in off the post, after he reacted faster than defender Philippe Senderos to a loose, looping ball.
``We wanted to put ourselves in a position to be ready for our first game of the World Cup,'' Quagliarella said. Italy opens against Paraguay on June 14.
Though Italy did not shine in a match lacking creativity and scoring chances, the result is a good omen.
The Italians drew 1-1 in Geneva against Switzerland in warmups before winning the World Cup in 1982 and in 2006.
Hitzfeld long ago chose Italy as the best preparation for opening in Group H against tournament favorite Spain on June 16.
However, the match arrived with the out-of-form Swiss needing a boost to morale after a 1-0 defeat against Costa Rica on Tuesday.
Italy coach Marcello Lippi rested most of his regular starters with only captain Gianluca Zambrotta having begun a 2-1 loss by Mexico 48 hours earlier.
``This wasn't the second team because we are one Italy. We had to give those players from the Mexico game a rest,'' Lippi said.
The action started busily, despite both teams citing weariness in their midweek defeats after coming down from Alpine training camps at altitude.
Inler's goal was a quick reply to Swiss critics who this week said he has not stepped up as the dominating force they expected.
``Gokhan showed the right reaction,'' Hitzfeld said. ``He is a silent leader, but is someone who can take the responsibilty on himself.''
The 25-year-old midfielder cut inside a challenge and shot left-footed to beat goalkeeper Federico Marchetti's dive.
Inler is the only Swiss player to score in its five-match winless streak. He converted a penalty in a 3-1 loss to Uruguay in March.
Italy leveled four minutes later as Quagliarella beat Senderos to head a ball which spun upward from their first aerial challenge.
The first half passed without another clear chance, though Giampaolo Pazzini just failed to connect on two 42nd-minute crosses into the Swiss goalmouth.
Both sides struggled to find an attacking rhythm in the second half, even before a succession of substitutions further disrupted the flow of play.
Swiss substitutes Eren Derdiyok and Hakan Yakin had late efforts go off target before Marchetti was finally forced into a save in stoppage time.
The 18-year-old midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri advanced deep in the Italian half and his shot was parried to safety by the Cagliari 'keeper.
In South Africa, Switzerland also faces Chile and Honduras.
Italy completes its Group F campaign against New Zealand and Slovakia.
Switzerland: Diego Benaglio (Marco Woelfli, 46), Stephan Lichtsteiner, Philippe Senderos, Stephane Grichting, Reto Ziegler (Ludovic Magnin, 81), Valon Behrami (Tranquillo Barnetta, 58), Gokhan Inler, Benjamin Huggel, Gelson Fernandes (Xherdan Shaqiri, 88), Alex Frei (Hakan Yakin, 75), Blaise Nkufo (Eren Derdiyok, 68).
Italy: Federico Marchetti, Christian Maggio, Salvatore Bocchetti, Giorgio Chiellini, Gianluca Zambrotta (Domenico Criscito, 81), Andrea Cossu (Simone Pepe, 46), Gennaro Gattuso (Vincenzo Iaquinta, 86), Angelo Palombo (Daniele De Rossi, 88), Riccardo Montolivo, Fabio Quagliarella (Antonio Di Natale, 67), Giampaolo Pazzini (Alberto Gilardino, 77).