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YB and Zurich scrape through

Young Boys coach Marco Schällibaum (centre) celebrates with players and fans Keystone

Bern Young Boys and FC Zurich have qualified for the Swiss football league championship round thanks to wins on the final day of the winter qualifying round.

This content was published on December 9, 2001 - 17:42

A late penalty converted by Gurkan Sermeter in the 94th minute of Young Boys' match against fourth-placed St Gallen was enough to secure the side from the Swiss capital a 1-0 win and with it a place in the eight-team springtime championships.

FC Zurich also left it late before winning in Sion by the same scoreline, Feliciano Magro's 86th minute free-kick taking Zurich into eighth place behind Young Boys.

The two teams' success came at the expense of Aarau and Neuchâtel Xamax, who are both now set to join Lausanne and Lucerne in a battle against relegation with the top four teams from the Swiss B league.

Lucerne, who finished rock bottom of the qualifying round, may not even get as far as the relegation fight with serious financial difficulties threatening to drive the central Swiss club out of business.

Basel winter champions

The situation at the top of the table remained unchanged following Sunday's action with all three of the leading clubs celebrating wins. FC Basel confirmed their status as winter champions with an unexpectedly tight 1-0 win in Lucerne, while second-placed Lugano were responsible for ending Aarau's dream with a single Ticinese penalty enough to separate the teams.

Defending champions Grasshoppers Zurich put Aarau out of their misery with greater ease, winning Sunday's showdown 4-1.

While Basel head into the winter break with a five-point lead over Lugano, Switzerland's peculiar league system will ensure that things look quite a lot tighter when the championship contenders return to action in the spring.

Points accumulated during the qualifying period are now halved for the championship round, meaning that Basel will resume their campaign on 22 points with Lugano, Grasshoppers (both 19 points) and St Gallen (18) all within just four points of the leaders.

New keeper for Hoppers

Grasshoppers meanwhile have wasted little time in restructuring their team ahead of next year's restart. After Sunday's win the Zurich side revealed that they had signed Sion goalkeeper Fabrice Borer on a three-and-a-half year contract.

The 30-year-old Borer is expected to replace young Liechtenstein international Peter Jehle who has had a troubled time settling in between the Grasshoppers goalposts.

Jehle is reported to be set for a move to Liechtenstein club Vaduz who play their football in Switzerland's B league. Sion are expected to replace Borer with Swiss under-21 goalie Nicolas Beney.

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