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Swiss roller hockey team lose out to favourites

Jürg Ottmann under pressure in the Swiss goal


Switzerland's hopes of winning the European roller hockey championships on home soil have suffered a setback, after a 4-1 defeat by the reigning champions, Portugal.

In front of a sell-out crowd, the hosts were unable to upset the odds and must now battle France for a place in the semi-finals.

The Portuguese side looked well worth their reputation as favourites after taking a 3-0 lead within the first half-hour. But the Swiss rallied after Marcel Althaus made it 3-1. The player from Uttigen then missed a great chance to score a second goal. With Rolf Lüthi having earlier hit a post, Switzerland could take comfort from their performance, although a fourth Portuguese goal two minutes from the end made for a slightly harsh scoreline.

Thursday's encounter with France will determine who takes the last semi-final spot with Portugal, Spain and Italy already through to the last four. Whether Switzerland will get a chance for revenge against Portugal in the final remains to be seen, but the levels of interest in the tournament have at least marked a success for the Swiss organisers.

Ahead of the Portugal match, 500 extra seats were installed at the Herrenmattehalle in Wimmis, canton Berne. With 2,500 spectators crammed into the arena, hundreds more still had to be turned away. Clearly roller hockey is still living in the shadows of its big brother, ice hockey, but such healthy figures suggest the sport is enjoying the benefit of renewed public interest in roller- and inline-skating.

swissinfo with agencies

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