Swiss light the Group A touch paper

June 15 -The last time Switzerland played in Cologne, they treated those in attendance and the millions watching at home to the most turgid 120 minutes of football I have ever witnessed, while losing to Ukraine on penalties during the 2006 World Cup.

It would be different this time around as the Rossocrociati faced the mighty Magyars of Hungary with all to play for in Group A.

Thanks to Germany’s dismantling of Scotland in the tournament’s opening match, both teams knew that a draw and a point apiece wouldn’t be the worst result. However, that didn’t stop both sides from entertaining the faithful at a sold-out RheinEnergie Stadion which must rank as one of the loudest in world football.

From the 1st minute it was obvious that Murat Yakin, Switzerland’s coach had his tactics right as they dominated possession while probing for the softer underbelly of the Hungarians. In the 12th minute they found it!

Granit Xhaka orchestrated the Swiss performance

For those of you that hate VAR, there isn’t one Swiss fan who is complaining today as Kwadwo Duah was nicely slipped in by Michel Aebischer for his first international only for the assistant referee to raise his flag.

From the press box it looked like a poor decision and the VAR replay which took an age only confirmed that Duah had timed his run to perfection. For Duah he got to celebrate his first goal twice as the referee pointed to the center circle a minute after the ball hit the back of the net.

Hungary immediately looked to their talisman Dominik Szoboszlai to change the momentum however the Liverpool man was having to look for the game instead of it coming to him.

With the Swiss a goal to the good, confidence began to build and as they increasingly bossed the game, and chances presented themselves. In the 19th minute Peter Gulacsi in Hungary’s goal had to be at his best to deny Ruben Vargas who might be disappointed he didn’t score after a howler of a mistake by Milos Kerkez.

In the engine room of the Swiss midfield, Granit Xhaka was increasingly dominant, asking for and receiving the ball with regularity and with momentum moving in one direction it was no surprise when the Nati doubled their lead.

Aebischer, who already had an assist to his name, sold Adam Lang a delicious dummy that had the Hungarian looking for his way back into the stadium. With the space created, Aebischer curled his 20-yard shot into the far corner heading into the half time break.

Barnabas Varga made no mistake with his second chance

Whatever Hungary boss Marco Rossi said to his players had no effect as the Swiss and  Xhaka simply took over for the opening 10 minutes as the Hungarians were chasing shadows but then, and this is the beauty of football, it changed.

Dominik Szoboszlai decided that Xhaka would no longer upstage him as he showed exactly why Liverpool paid a reported £60 million for his services. In the 60thminute a cynical foul by Remo Freuler roused his competitive instincts and Hungary were back in the game.

Three minutes later Roland Sallai curled in a beautiful cross that Barnabas Varga couldn’t miss with his head, but he did! Instead of deflating the Hungarian support behind the goal it roused them even further and just three minutes later Szoboszlai found Varga who again used his head to better effect close range. A case of convenient amnesia if ever I saw one.

With the atmosphere building to a crescendo both teams knew that one mistake either way would decide the outcome and it was the Hungarians who blinked first as they poured players forward in search of the equaliser.

Embolo with Switzerland’s third put the game out of Hungarian reach

Yann Sommer launched a long kick downfield and Hungarian center back Will Orban had a moment to forget as his attempted clearing header landed at the feet of Breel Embolo who made no mistake lobbing the ball coolly over Gulacsi, setting off delirium at the Swiss end of the stadium.

Three goals for Switzerland, three points for Switzerland and Group A has a very Germanic feel about it. With Scotland to play on Wednesday, Murat Yakin will be refining his X’s and O’s knowing that even a tie will be enough for them to make the knockout rounds.

Eighteen years ago in this stadium, the Swiss bored us to death, today they’ve lit the touch paper and showed that they could be one of the tournament’s dark horses.

Contact the writer of this story, Nick Webster, at moc.l1721239225labto1721239225ofdlr1721239225owedi1721239225sni@o1721239225fni1721239225