Swiss progress to World Cup knockout stage


Switzerland advanced to the next round of the World Cup with a 2-0 victory against South Korea in Hanover on Friday that saw them finish top of their group.

This content was published on June 23, 2006 minutes

Goals from Philippe Senderos and Alex Frei set up a meeting with the Ukraine on Monday in the first knockout stage of the tournament.

Switzerland came into the game knowing that a draw would be enough to qualify for the next round, but they had vowed to target a win.

Mindful of the fact that six players were on yellow cards, coach Köbi Kuhn drafted defender Christoph Spycher and midfield playmaker Hakan Yakin into his starting line-up.

Switzerland dominated possession in the early stages with Tranquillo Barnetta in the thick of the action.

The scorer of Monday's crucial second goal against Togo set Yakin clear with a probing pass, but the resulting shot was well blocked. Barnetta himself was then denied by another last-ditch tackle a few minutes later.

The promised breakthrough arrived in the 23rd minute as Yakin delivered a perfect free-kick for Senderos to power home an unstoppable header at the far post. The defender celebrated with blood pouring from his brow after clashing heads in the process of scoring.

Victory sealed

South Korea soon gave Yakin two more chances to show off his set-piece skills. The first missed Raphael Wicky's head by inches while the second demanded a smart save from the Korean goalkeeper.

But South Korea rallied well towards the end of the half and Switzerland had goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbühler to thank for preserving their lead, plunging first to his right then to his left to save shots from the dangerous Lee Chun-Soo.

In between saves Kim Jin-Kyu contrived to hook the ball wide from five metres after "Zubi" and Patrick Müller made a mess of clearing a corner.

The final chance of the half fell to Frei, but the Swiss striker somehow failed to get his head to a Yakin corner when left unmarked in the box.

Switzerland were dealt a serious blow just after the restart when Senderos was forced to leave the action after falling awkwardly on his arm.

Frei dragged one early shot wide from 16 metres and was then slow to react when Barnetta drilled the ball across the face of goal. But he was unlucky in the 65th minute to see his powerful shot from just inside the penalty area crash against the Korean post.

Moments later Cho Jae-Jin connected with a Korean corner only to direct his header straight into the turf to allow Zuberbühler to turn the ball over the bar.

Frei sealed the match in the 77th minute by rounding the goalkeeper and slotting home from a narrow angle. The Koreans complained after the referee had (correctly) overruled an offside decision from the linesman, but the goal was the icing on the Swiss cake in Kuhn's 50th game in charge.

swissinfo, Matthew Allen in Hanover

Key facts

Final Group G table:

Switzerland – played three, seven points, four goals scored and none conceded;
France – played three, five points, three goal scored, one conceded;
South Korea – played three, four points, three goals scored and four conceded;
Togo – played three, no points, one goal scored and six conceded.

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In brief

Switzerland next meet Ukraine on Monday in their round of 16 match in Cologne.

Switzerland are appearing in their eighth World Cup finals, having reached the quarter-final stage in 1934, 1938 and 1954.

Their last appearance before this year was 1994 in the US, where they were knocked out by Spain in the round of 16.

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