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Swiss pound Belgium 5-2 in Nations League

By IANS Updated: Nov 19, 2018 10:01 pm
Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates during the UEFA Nations League soccer match against Belgium at the Swissporarena stadium in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Sun. Nov. 18. (AP/PTI)

Lucerne (Switzerland), Nov. 19 (IANS): Switzerland fought back from a two-goal deficit to defeat Belgium 5-2 and claim a berth in the final phase of the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

Haris Seferovic on Sunday had a hat-trick for the winning side, while Thorgan Hazard scored both the Belgium goals, reports Efe.

The Belgians, whose last defeat in an official match dates to 2016, came into the contest at the Swissporarena in Lucerne needing only a draw to advance from League A Group 2.

With nine points from three matches, the Red Devils led second-place Switzerland by 3 points and even a loss would not have been fatal, as long the Belgians scored at least twice and the winning margin for the Swiss was no greater than one goal.

History seemed to be on the side of the visitors. Switzerland had not defeated Belgium since 1983 and the team that finished third in the 2018 World Cup led 2-0 after 17 minutes on a brace by the younger brother of superstar Eden Hazard.

Yet the tide began to turn in the 26th minute when Ricardo Rodriguez scored from the penalty spot after Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois fouled Kevin Mbabu.

The Swiss pulled level five minutes later as Seferovic beat Courtois after taking a perfect pass from Xherdan Shaqiri.

The stunned Belgian side failed to react and Seferovic got his second of the night in the 44th minute to give Switzerland a 3-2 advantage at the break.

Despite the setbacks, the Belgians, who beat the Swiss 2-1 in Belgium last month, faced a situation where they could still win the group if they kept a clean sheet in the second half.

But the Red Devils could not stop the Swiss, who increased their lead to 4-2 in the 62nd minute with Nico Elvedi’s header off a Shaqiri cross.

And the Swiss weren’t finished.

With five minutes left in regulation, Shaqiri deftly back-heeled the ball to Mbabu, who passed to Seferovic to complete the triple.


By IANS Updated: Nov 19, 2018 10:01:05 pm