Switzerland significantly boosted their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages at Euro 2020 by beating Turkey 3-1 in their final Group A game.
Vladimir Petkovic’s side finished behind Italy and Wales in their group and face an anxious wait to see if they will progress as one of the four best third-placed teams, although a superb display in Baku has put them in a strong position.
Haris Seferovic got Switzerland on their way early on from 20 yards before another fine strike from Xherdan Shaqiri had them two goals up at the break.
Irfan Can Kahveci pulled one back for Turkey, but Shaqiri wrapped up Switzerland’s first win of the tournament – and ensured their opponents leave the competition having failed to pick up a single point – with another wonderful finish.
Despite Turkey’s strong start, which saw Kaan Ayhan test Yann Sommer from distance, it was Switzerland who struck first, Seferovic lashing into Ugurcan Cakir’s bottom-left corner after just six minutes.
Shaqiri doubled their advantage in the 26th minute, the Liverpool forward whipping superbly past Cakir from just outside the penalty area.
A smart save from Cakir denied a clean-through Shaqiri moments later as Switzerland threatened to run away with it, while at the other end Sommer kept out the impressive Mert Muldur on three occasions before the interval.
Switzerland continued to pour forward after the restart, with Cakir doing well to repel efforts from Breel Embolo and Seferovic, but Kahveci gave Turkey hope of a comeback with a sumptuous strike from outside the area after 62 minutes.
Shaqiri restored Switzerland’s two-goal advantage six minutes later, though, the 29-year-old applying a clinical finishing touch to Steven Zuber’s pass, the Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder becoming only the third player to register three assists in a single match at the European Championship.
Granit Xhaka struck the post late on as Switzerland sought in vain to overturn a goal deficit to second-placed Wales, settling instead for sending an insipid Turkey home with a whimper.
What does it mean? Switzerland hit form at the right time
Petkovic penned an open letter to Switzerland fans on Saturday asking for “solidarity” and “positivity” and his players certainly gave them something to be happy about with a commanding display. They had 22 shots and were good value for a win that should give them a spring in their step if they make the last 16.
Turkey, meanwhile, were some people’s dark horses for the tournament, but it has been a dismal showing by Senol Gunes’ men. They finished rock bottom of Group A, having lost all three of their games.
Shaqiri shines for Switzerland
You would scarcely have been able to tell Shaqiri had started just seven games for Liverpool in the 2020-21 season, given the excellence of his display here. His first goal was a thing of beauty, while his second moved him above Josef Hugi as Switzerland’s top scorer at major tournaments (seven – four at the World Cup and three at the European Championship).
Soyuncu sums up Turkey’s tournament
Caglar Soyuncu failed to bring his Leicester City form with him to this tournament and the usually formidable defender delivered another meek performance here. The 25-year-old made just one tackle and no interceptions as Shaqiri and company gave him the runaround.
Switzerland will have to wait until all group games have finished on Wednesday to find out if they have made it through to the knockout stages, while the post-mortem of Turkey’s woeful performance will likely start with immediate effect.
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