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Switzerland 2 Ecuador 1: Swiss prevail with perfect timing

THE cliches arrived like clockwork.

Haris Seferovic turns to celebrate his winner. Picture: Reuters
Haris Seferovic turns to celebrate his winner. Picture: Reuters

Haris Seferovic had just scored a late goal to give his side a winning start to their World Cup campaign but it was a strike made in Switzerland: the consequence of which was to remark on a nation's renowned sense of timing. Typical Swiss, right on time.

Seferovic, merely a substitute when he stepped on to the pitch after 75 minutes but a hero by full-time, might have been inclined to roll his eyes had he not needed them to take in his big moment in Brazil. Having trailed to an early goal by Ecuador's Enner Valencia, the Swiss fought back to score twice after the break. The intervention of Seferovic - who stabbed in a shot just 23 seconds from the end - allowed his side to steal a march in Group E.

France would catch them up later in the evening, with Europe seizing the advantage in the group. That left Ecuador feeling particularly sore since Seferovic scored just moments after helping his side to clear their lines, with Michael Arroyo having worked space in the Swiss penalty area. He delayed his shout, however, and Switzerland broke forward with unfettered determination.

They had found a moment to exploit, a reward for persevering after falling behind after 22 minutes. Some inefficient marking allowed Valencia a free jump at a free-kick from Walter Ayovi, with both Granit Xhaka and Johann Djourou only close enough to watch as the ball spun into the net. Ecuador were not expected to have posed too great an obstacle, but this was a reminder that they possess menace in attack.

Still it was their defensive qualities which would come under greater scrutiny as first Valon Behrami sent a header towards goal which was gathered at the second attempt by goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez, while Xherdan Shaqiri then claimed for a penalty as his shot appeared to be blocked by the arm of Frickson Erazo. He had the good sense to play on innocently.

Switzerland clawed their way back into the match just three minutes after the break - substitute Admir Mehmedi nodding in from a corner. His side had strolled through their qualifying campaign and appeared to recall that confidence as the sought to control the match. The Swiss were not to be denied a win, even after Josip Drmic's cool finish following a well-worked move was incorrectly ruled out for offside.

It was a moment which brought consternation from the Swiss. It was fleeting. There was a free-kick from Arroyo which was deflected wide before the Ecuador man took possession of the ball in the penalty area and waited for his moment to shoot, waiting just long enough for the Swiss to steal the ball back from under his nose.

Behrami broke, tumbling under a challenge but finding his feet again in time to help set up substitute Seferovic to thump a the ball into the net from close range. It was a goal which has given the Swiss a winning start to their World Cup campaign and arrived with impeccable timing.

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