Euro champs Portugal blanked by Switzerland

by

September 07, 2016
Portugal's Bernardo Silva (left) battles for the ball with Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez during the 2018 World Cup Russia Group B qualification match in Basel, Switzerland yesterday. Switzerland won 2-0.

GENEVA (AP):

European champions Portugal failed to overcome the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo this time, and lost 2-0 to Switzerland in a World Cup qualifying match yesterday.

For Portugal's first competitive match since beating France in the Euro 2016 final, Ronaldo was left out of the squad, while he recovers from the knee injury sustained in the opening minutes in Paris.

A Swiss team, which mostly lacked spark in France, fired into life with two goals midway through the first half at Basel. It also had mid-fielder Granit Xhaka sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card.

Breel Embolo headed the opening goal in the 23rd minute, reacting fastest to goalkeeper Rui Patricio's parry of a Ricardo Rodriguez free kick.

A fine fast break in the 30th was finished by Admir Mehmedi with a curling shot into the top-right corner of the Portugal goal. Mehmedi had taken a return pass after finding forward Haris Seferovic running deep beyond the defense.

Portugal struck a post in the 82nd when Nani directed a header to bounce slowly back across goal and safely away.

Earlier, Portugal's defenders went close with shots that deflected just wide of goal, by left-back Raphael Guerreiro in the 37th and with Jose Fonte's volley in the 75th.

Portugal's loss was their first in 15 competitive matches under coach Fernando Santos, almost two years after he took the job.

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