Wales and Switzerland played out an entertaining 1-1 draw to open their respective Euro 2020 campaigns at the Olympic Stadium at Baku on Saturday (June 12).
Wales and Switzerland played out an entertaining 1-1 draw to open their respective Euro 2020 campaigns at the Olympic Stadium at Baku on Saturday (June 12). Switzerland opened the scoring in the second half thanks to Breel Embolo. However, Kieffer Moore levelled the game for Wales and both teams eventually settled for a point. The result means Italy lead Group A after the first round of matches in the group. They beat Turkey 3-0 on the opening day of the tournament.
The early parts of the match gave fans an idea on what to expect. Switzerland stroked the ball around for a minute before Wales broke dangerously. Dan James cut onto his right foot from the left wing but his shot was saved easily.
As the half progressed, the Swiss found themselves hogging the ball more than the Welsh players. The strategy for them seemed simple; be patient and break at pace when the chance arose.
James continued to be a threat down the left. Indeed, the Manchester United winger created two chances and was the only Welsh player to complete a take-on.
Yet it was the Swiss players who found themselves in dangerous positions more often. Xherdan Shaquiri was a constant menace down the right, firing in crosses and generally getting the ball in good areas.
Indeed, they were unlucky not to be ahead going into the break. Haris Seferovic, in particular, let the Welsh off easy on a few occasions.
The most notable of those came just before half-time. Breel Embolo managed to lay off a pass to Seferovic while his shirt was being grabbed by Chris Mepham. Seferovic had the near post to slot it into but sent it agonisingly wide.
Embolo was not to be denied in the second half, however. He cut through the Welsh defence and fired a powerful shot straight at Danny Ward.
But the resulting corner saw Shaquiri pick Embolo out, who nodded home with nonchalance. Wales were stunned but it was no less than the Swiss deserved.
They didn’t rest on the lead either, constantly looking to push forward in the hunt for a second. They very nearly got one too, with Embolo slicing open the Welsh defence before laying it off to Kevin Mbabu.
Mbabu, frustratingly, delivered what was neither a shot nor a cross. Wales, however, were now slowly coming to life. They pushed forward and won a corner. Ben Davies found himself in a good position but his volley went high.
Once the hour mark was passed, Swiss manager Vladimir Petkovic removed Shaquiri. As such, the Swiss then began to sit deeper in a bid to protect their lead.
Naturally this gave Wales more of the ball, but they didn’t trouble the Swiss defence too much to begin with. However, their patience paid off in the 74th minute.
Wales won a corner and worked it short to midfielder Joe Morrell on the right side of the penalty box. His well-weighted ball was met by Kieffer More, who was denied in the first half when his header was batted away by Yan Sommer.
There was to be no encore, however, as the header flew past Sommer and Wales could breath a sigh of relief. Now it was the Swiss who were on edge.
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 12, 2021
Never was this more evident than when Swiss skipper Granit Xhaka clumsily clattered into former Arsenal midfield partner Aaron Ramsey. The two jumped up and shook hands but the panic in the Swiss ranks was clear.
Yet Switzerland thought they got the points when substitute Mario Gavranovic volleyed home from close range. A VAR check, however, correctly ruled the goal out for offside.
Gavranovic would again try his luck from outside the box but dragged his shot wide in the end. Embolo again had another good chance as he headed one from close range but the effort was well saved.
The Swiss continued to push forward but eventually took just a point from their opening Euro 2020 game.