Switzerland have drawn 0-0 against Croatia in their first game at the European football championships in Portugal.This content was published on June 14, 2004 - 07:37
The Swiss salvaged the result despite losing midfielder Johann Vogel early in the second half after he was sent off.
Although the Swiss played the last 40 minutes with ten men, Croatia failed to create any serious problems for goalkeeper Jörg Stiel in a poor quality game at the Dr Magalhaes Pessoa stadium.
Vogel was ejected after he kicked Tomo Sokota from behind, picking up his second yellow card of the game.
"Playing one man down was a big handicap for us," Swiss captain Stiel told swissinfo.
Switzerland's manager Köbi Kuhn said he was proud of his team for resisting so well, adding that he was satisfied with their performance.
Kuhn, however, is not sure whether this will be enough to get the Swiss through to the quarter-finals.
"Only time will tell if it was a point lost or a point gained," he told swissinfo.
In a game of few chances Croatia had the clearer opportunities to score.
Kovac, Josip Simunic and Ivica Olic all missed headers before the break, with Stiel making an acrobatic one-handed save and Olic hitting the crossbar from barely three metres.
Eight players were cautioned in what was a niggly game, with Vogel being the first player to be shown the yellow card as early as the fourth minute for bringing down Kovac from behind.
Dado Prso, whose goals helped Monaco reach the Champions League final, was shown the yellow card by Portuguese referee Lucilio Batista for diving after falling dramatically under a challenge from Bernt Haas.
Ivica Molnar was also cautioned for diving as little went right for Otto Baric's team, who are in the same group as England and defending champions France.
Switzerland's best chance of the opening 20 minutes came when Alex Frei slipped free of Josip Simunic and fired a low shot from just inside the area.
Butina failed to hold it but a defender cleared as Stéphane Chapuisat threatened to pounce on the rebound.
The Swiss went close again in the 25th minute when Hakan Yakin curled an inswinging corner into the danger area and Haas launched himself through a crowd of players but glanced his header wide of the far post.
At the other end, Sokota collected the ball with his back to goal in the Swiss area and managed to turn and fire in a low left-foot shot which was comfortably held by Stiel.
Croatia should have gone ahead ten minutes before half-time when Niko Kovac was left unmarked by the Swiss defence and climbed to reach a corner, only to head over the bar with Stiel well off his line.
Then another blunder by the Swiss when Haas played five opponents onside at a free kick should also have led to a goal.
Suminic was allowed a free header but it was brilliantly blocked by Stiel. From the rebound, Olic also had a great chance to head home, but he hit the crossbar.
Stiel had to race back when the ball bounced over his head 20 minutes from time, but he managed to stop the ball from crossing the line.
The Swiss then almost snatched the lead 13 minutes from the end when Benjamin Huggel fired a shot from 30 metres that goalkeeper Butina managed to push round the post.
Switzerland's next match is on Thursday against England, who lost 2-1 to France.
swissinfo with agencies
Dr. Magalhaes Pessoa stadium, Leiria.
24,090 spectators (capacity: 29,000).
Referee: Batista, Portugal.
Switzerland: Stiel; Haas, Murat Yakin, Müller, Spycher; Huggel, Vogel, Wicky (83mins Henchoz); Hakan Yakin (86mins Gygax); Chapuisat (55mins Celestini), Frei.
Croatia: Butina; Simic (61mins Srna), Robert Kovac, Simunic, Zivkovic; Mornar, Niko Kovac, Bjelica (74mins Rosso), Olic (46mins Rapaic); Sokota, Prso.
Switzerland played without Cabanas (suspended) and Borer (injured); Croatia played without Tudor (suspended) and Pletikosa (injured).
Red card to Vogel in the 50th minute (second yellow card).
Yellow cards: 5mins Vogel, 13mins Prso, 30mins Bjelica, 42mins Huggel, 48mins Rapaic, 52mins Niko Kovac, 54mins Mornar, 73mins Stiel.
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