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Devastation on the ice rink

Jean-Jacques Aeschlimann comes in for some close Ukrainian attention Keystone

Switzerland's bid for a place in the quarter-finals of the Olympic ice hockey tournament has fallen apart in dramatic fashion, after a humiliating 5-2 defeat to Ukraine.

This content was published on February 12, 2002 - 03:28

The unexpected loss, against a team playing in their first ever Olympic Games, ensured the Swiss side's elimination from the qualifying group with just two of their three preliminaries played.

Terrible start

Just as in their opening match against France, Ralph Krueger's men made a terrible start to Monday's game, conceding a goal in the third minute despite having a one-man advantage.

But unlike in that opening match, when the Swiss team came from behind three times to secure a 3-3 draw, there was little sign of any fighting spirit this time around.

After falling 2-0 behind, Switzerland finally found their way onto the scoresheet in the 17th minute thanks to a well-worked strike from Lugano forward Sandy Jeannin.

Aebischer pulled

But a third Ukrainian goal midway through the second period piled the pressure back on, and led Krueger to take off NHL goaltender David Aebischer.

Another brief glimmer of hope followed when Ivo Rüthemann pulled the score back to 3-2 but within three minutes Ukraine had restored their two goal margin, with Vadym Shakhraychuk beating replacement goalie Martin Gerber.

Valentyn Oletsky's second goal of the night completed the misery with some frantic Swiss attacks in the dying minutes failing to break down an assured Ukraine defence.

Playing for pride

Having travelled to Salt Lake with the aim of reaching the tournament's final round and thereby securing a place in the quarter-finals, Krueger's men now find themselves playing just for pride.

After a meaningless match, from the Swiss perspective at least, against Belarus on Wednesday, the team will on Thursday play another eliminated side to determine their final Olympic placing.

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