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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Swiss shock favorites Spain in Durban

Reuters - 53 minutes ago
By Nick Mulvenney
DURBAN (Reuters) - Switzerland pulled off the biggest shock of this World Cup when they beat European champions Spain 1-0 in Group H on Wednesday, their first ever victory over their opponents in 19 games.

Gelson Fernandes' goal after a mix up in the Spanish defense gave the Swiss a shock 52nd minute lead and Spain, for all their talent and guile, were unable to find a way through the massed ranks of white Switzerland shirts.

"We tried in an orthodox way and in an heroic way but we were not able to score. It wasn't our day. We dominated almost all the match," Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said.

"This defeat means that we have to win the other two (group) matches," he added.

The Swiss, who have now not conceded a goal in the World Cup since a 3-0 defeat to Spain in 1994, share the lead in Group H with Chile, who beat Honduras 1-0 earlier on Wednesday.

After a forgettable first half, the Swiss looked like spending another 45 minutes defending for their lives until goalkeeper Diego Benaglio's long punt caused chaos in the Spanish defense.

Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas clashed with Swiss striker Eren Derdiyok and Gerard Pique was unable to stop the ball falling to Fernandes, who clipped the ball into an empty net.

The defeat ended a run of 12 straight victories for the Spanish, who had qualified for the World Cup with a 100 percent record and were many pundits' favorites to win the tournament.

The European champions enjoyed a near monopoly of possession for much of the game but were unable to convert the chances they created.

Del Bosque, who had started the match with David Villa as a lone striker, brought Fernando Torres and Jesus Navas on after the goal to try and rescue the game but they were unable to find a way through.

Xabi Alonso hit the underside of the bar with a fine strike in the 70th minute, Navas shot lamely Benaglio when through on goal about a minute later, and Pique squandered another chance on the next Spanish attack.

Derdiyok, playing in place of his injured captain Alex Frei, then jinked his way through the defense to almost double the Swiss lead but, to the relief of the Spanish, his shot came bouncing back off the post.

Torres had a couple more openings in the dying minutes of the game but failed to exploit them and, after five minutes of added time, the Swiss were able to celebrate a famous victory.

(Editing by Nigel Hunt)

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