FIFA World Cup 2010 Report: Switzerland Stuns Favourite Spain, 1-0
This was not in the script.
A 52nd-minute goal from Gelson Fernandes gave Switzerland a shock 1-0 victory over 2010 World Cup favourites Spain in Group H this afternoon.
The European champions were expected to kick off their campaign for World Cup glory with a convincing victory.
Instead they were left ruing numerous missed chances in Durban.
Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas were only deemed fit enough for places on the bench, with David Villa playing as a lone striker.
Switzerland were missing their main forward Alexander Frei and also West Ham United’s Valeron Behrami.
As expected, Spain dominated possession from the outset, with the ball being pinged across the pitch from side to side.
Xavi and Andres Iniesta dictated the pace in the middle, Sergio Busquets and David Silva bombed up and down the wing attempting to stretch this Swiss defence.
Right back Sergio Ramos had his side’s first chance of the match, opting to shoot in space with Xavi and Villa free.
Gerard Pique had an even better chance minutes later.
The Barcelona defender managed to stay onside in the penalty area and took down Andres Iniesta pass with a deft first touch.
He cut inside his marker and poked a shot straight at Diego Benaglio when he should have done better.
The 28-year-old first struck a free kick into the wall and then rather bizarrely opted to chip the ball across the face of goal instead of shoot when presented with the opportunity.
Much of the same was expected after the restart.
Switzerland took one look at that particular page of the script and tore it to pieces.
A long ball forward was flicked on by Eren Derdiyok, who did just enough to set up the onrushing Fernandes, and the former Manchester City player bundled the ball into the net.
This jolted coach Vincente del Bosque into action.
Off came Busquets and Silva, on went Torres and Jesus Navas.
The Liverpool striker appeared off the pace, clearly still not fully recovered from his injury.
His former teammate Xabi Alonso came closer than any other Spain player to restoring parity with a fearsome shot that from outside the box that shook the crossbar.
As the Spaniards poured forward in search of an equaliser, Switzerland came agonisingly close to doubling their advantage.
Derdiyok managed to get the better of Pique and Puyol, then saw his stabbed effort hit the post with Casillas beaten.
That proved to be a brief interlude as the waves of red shirts continued to charge forward.
But Switzerland held firm to cause the biggest upset of the 2010 World Cup so far.
No team has gone on to win the World Cup after losing their first game, and on this evidence Spain have some work to do if they are to contest the final on July 11.
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