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Grasshoppers leap level with Lugano

Grasshoppers captain Stéphane Chapuisat bursts through the St Gallen defence

(Keystone)

Grasshoppers Zurich have lifted themselves level with Lugano at the top of the Swiss football league table, after beating defending champions St Gallen 2-1 in the championship round's opening match.

The Zurich side enjoyed the lion's share of possession throughout the game but it was Marcel Koller's team who were to take the lead in the first half.

Grasshoppers keeper Stefan Huber did well in the 34th minute to tip an Ivan Dal Santo free kick over the crossbar, but the resulting corner saw St Gallen find the net just seconds later. Brazilian midfielder Jairo fired in a perfect ball for an unmarked Giorgio Contini to head home.

Grasshoppers struck back in style in the second half, though, thanks to their two new signings from Neuchâtel Xamax.

Four minutes after the restart, Senegalese midfielder Papa Bouba got himself on the scoresheet, heading in a Boris Smiljanic cross after good work down the wing by Ricardo Cabanas.

Then with just over 20 minutes remaining, Bouba's compatriot and former Xamax colleague Henri Camara poked in what turned out to be the winning goal. Veteran Swiss striker Stéphane Chapuisat did much of the hard work, outpacing Daniel Imhof before sliding the ball into Camara near the goal line.

The win lifts Grasshoppers above St Gallen and into second place in the standings, level on points with leaders Lugano.

Lausanne could join the summit party on Saturday if they can beat FC Zurich at home. On Sunday Lugano resume their campaign with a home match against Sion, while Basel, currently in fifth place travel to Servette Geneva.

by Mark Ledsom


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