Switzerland recorded a comfortable 5-1 win over the Faroe Islands in Saturday's World Cup qualifier. There was nothing comfortable about the opening period, however, with the Swiss forced to fight back after conceding a shock early goal.
With just four minutes played the home crowd in Zurich's Hardturm stadium were stunned as the Swiss defences seemed to dissolve in front of the Faroe Islanders' first attacking move. Running unchallenged into the Swiss area, FC Leiftur striker John Petersen fired a fierce shot at Pascal Zuberbühler which the Swiss keeper did well to parry.
Petersen's strike partner reached the loose ball quickest and played it back across the face of the goal. As Zuberbühler looked to recover his position, Petersen was presented with a second chance which he promptly buried into the Swiss net.
It was Petersen's second goal on Swiss soil this season, after scoring against Lucerne during the 4-4 draw which saw the amateurs from Iceland knock Andy Egli's side out of the Inter Toto cup. For almost half an hour on Saturday an even greater upset seemed possible as Switzerland struggled to find their rhythm.
But after a series of inaccurate passes and poor set-pieces the Swiss finally produced the expected goal rush. With 26 minutes played David Sesa floated a corner into the visitors' area and onto the head of Marco Zwyssig. The St Gallen defender was able to do what the team's strikers had seemed incapable of, neatly knocking the ball past Jakup Mikkelsen to get Switzerland back on level terms.
Nine minutes later the home side took the lead. Once again it was a defender who scored, although the brilliance of Sébastien Fournier's goal scarcely looked like the work of a left back. The Servette Geneva player was almost 40 metres out when he swung the ball across the visitors' half and in off the woodwork.
The Faroe Islander amateurs faded fast, although it took a hat-trick of penalities to kill the match off. With three minutes of the first half remaining, Alexandre Comisetti was brought down in the area, prompting referee Costas Kapitanis to point to the spot.
Veteran striker Kubilay Türkyilmaz slid the resulting penalty into the right hand corner of Mikkelsen's goal, a spot he chose again just three minutes later as Switzerland were again awarded a spot-kick.
This time a handball was to blame and to compound the Faroe Islanders' misery their captain, Jens Kristian Hansen, was sent off for the offence.
Taking a 4-1 lead into the second half against a team of amateurs reduced to ten men, Switzerland were able to forget the embarrassment of the game's opening five minutes.
A third penalty goal for Türkyilmaz brought the only change to the scoreline in the second half, the referee penalising the visitors for another clumsy challenge on Comisetti. Once again the Swiss failed to capitalise on a number of chances that in a more challenging match might have proved decisive.
A terrible miss by Stéphane Chapuisat in the dying minutes was a telling example, the Grasshoppers man shooting wide almost from the empty goal-line after David Sesa had forced a diving save out of Mikkelsen.
When the final whistle went moments later Switzerland could point to a convincing scoreline, but with a far trickier encounter ahead in Slovenia this Wednesday, Saturday's tally of two defenders' goals and three penalties was a far less reassuring statistic.
swissinfo with agencies