Football

Switzerland outclass clumsy Hungary in Euros opener

June 16, 2024 7:24 am

[Source: Reuters]

Switzerland made a flying start to their Euro 2024 campaign with a commanding 3-1 win over a blunder-prone Hungary, with first international goals for Kwadwo Duah and Michel Aebischer, and Breel Embolo netting on his return from injury.

Chasing a place in the knockout rounds in their sixth consecutive major tournament, Switzerland were a classy outfit, composed, organised and quick on the attack as a Hungary side billed as the tournament’s dark horses made countless errors and struggled to get into the game.

In only his second international match, Duah fired the Swiss ahead with a cool finish after 12 minutes when he was put through by Aebischer, who doubled the lead on the stroke of halftime with a superb curling shot from outside the box after sloppy defending.

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Hungary were shell-shocked but improved in the second half, with Barnabas Varga squandering a clear chance when he found himself in space but headed wide of the post.

He did find the net in the 66th minute, however, crouching low to head home Dominik Szoboszlai’s neat cross to spark a frantic effort to fight back which the Swiss fended off resolutely, responding with a flurry of chances of their own.

Substitute Embolo sealed the win after another Hungarian error in stoppage time, lifting the ball over the keeper to trigger frenzied Swiss celebrations.

“I liken football to chess and today we got our tactics right,” Swiss coach Murat Yakin said.

“We focused on making the most of our strength and we made our opponents’ lives very hard.”

INSPIRED SELECTION

Switzerland were desperate for a strong start to the tournament after scraping through a weak group in a dismal qualifying campaign fraught with late mishaps in games.

Player of the match Granit Xhaka performed a vital role in the victory, controlling the pace of play, delivering pinpoint passes and twice coming close to scoring late goals.

Aebischer and Duah were brought back into the Switzerland side and Embolo was fit again after injury and their selection proved inspired, with Aebischer central to multiple attacks that exposed the frailty of the Hungarian defence.

Hungary’s start to their third successive Euros was disappointing, with expectations high after a run of 14 games unbeaten that ended only recently, and excitement over Szoboszlai, who made his debut in the tournament as the youngest captain in the European Championship at 23.

Hungary play Germany and Switzerland take on Scotland in the next Group A matches on Wednesday.

“The first half was very bad … we were too passive,” Hungary coach Marco Rossi said, lamenting his side’s errors at the back.

“I am not looking to point fingers. I am the coach, so I take responsibility.”

“It’s hard to correct the kind of mistakes that we made. Our players do not make mistakes like this every day,” he added.