Switzerland qualified for the round of 16 as Group E runners up behind Brazil, after a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica (which had already been eliminated) at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on Wednesday.
Costa Rica scored a stoppage-time equalizer with a Bryan Ruiz penalty kick, but it didn’t affect Switzerland’s progression as the second-place team in Group E.
Brazil topped the group after a 2-0 win over Serbia and will play Mexico. Switzerland will play Sweden.
Bjerim Dzemaili slammed in Switzerland’s first goal from close range after being set up by a header from Breel Embolo.
Costa Rica got its first goal of the tournament — and ensured all 32 teams scored goals in Russia — when defender Kendall Waston headed in a corner early in the second to equalize.
Substitute Josip Drmic put Switzerland 2-1 up in the 88th but the lead only stood for a couple of minutes before the Ruiz penalty shot hit the crossbar and then bounced in off goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
The 2-2 finish is not a very bad result, but the performance of the Swiss was. There were a lot of things going wrong in Petkovic’s team. At the beginning the squad seemed insecure and without ideas, then – after the score levelled at 1-1 – they became disoriented. Against Sweden, Lichtsteiner and Schar are now missing out due to yellow card suspension. The Round of 16 may be a challenge for the Swiss.
Man of the Match, Blerim Dzemaili, had no luck in front of goal in Switzerland’s opening two matches, but all that changed on Wednesday evening, when he opened his account for the tournament and came close to adding another. With his attacking team-mates having a quieter game than usual, Dzemaili’s sharpness was the most positive aspect of the game for the Swiss.
Costa Rica showed that they can compete at this level. Los Ticos sharpened their finishing in the second half and came away with a deserved draw. Committed and tactically astute in all three of their matches at Russia 2018, the Costa Ricans had to wait until their final outing before creating chances and getting in the goals. They exit the tournament feeling they could perhaps have done more.
“During the first 20 to 25 minutes we were able to recover very important balls. Not after that; there were many opportunities where they could recover balls and the transitions were quite quick and strong, so our defence started suffering a little bit with those quick transitions. During the second half we were able to correct that and to pressure. Also, my men have been playing together for some time so they knew how to control the situation. I think we didn’t deserve to lose, maybe it was a fair result.” Costa Rica coach Oscar Ramirez said at the post game presser.
“The Round of 16 was the minimum objective that we set ourselves that we had to achieve. Now we can focus on our next opponent. It was a moment when I wanted to field my best players and make sure all of them play. We got two yellow cards [and therefore suspensions] but we have 23 players in our squad and I’m happy to have the trust in the remaining players. I’m sure all of the players we field in the future will give 120 per cent and I think the team can cope. It’s too bad for those two guys but it’s too late to lament that now.” Vladimir Petkovic, Switzerland coach said.
Next up for Switzerland in the Round of 16 is an all-European clash with Group F winners Sweden to be played in St. Petersburg on 3 July.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups will proceed to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.