Late goal gives Switzerland tiebreaker edgeA goal in the 88th minute by Switzerland in its victory over Togo changed the complexion of Group G, while Spain routed Tunisia and climbed into the next round. Ukraine also pounded Saudi Arabia 4-0, making up for its own loss to Spain last week by the same score.
In a match with significant implications for Korea, Switzerland defeated Togo 2-0 late Monday night, Korean time, on goals by Alexander Frei and Tranquillo Barnetta. The late goal was crucial for Switzerland, because it means the team will still advance to the next round with just a tie against Korea.
Frei scored in the 16th minute for Switzerland. At halftime, Swiss coach Kobi Kuhn told his players they needed to score again. With 15 minutes left in the game, he sent in forward Marco Streller. Ten minutes later, he brought in another forward, Mauro Lustrinelli, to spark the offense.
With only a few minutes left, Lustrinelli rolled the ball toward top right corner of the box for the charging Barnetta, who drilled it into the far corner for the second goal.
“The players knew in the last minutes, we needed to do everything to score another. It wasn't easy against Togo,” Kuhn told Reuters. “The 2-0 victory gives us more hope because we don't absolutely have to win our next match against Korea.”
However, the Swiss players said they will not let up against Korea.
“We won't be playing for a draw against Korea,” said Frei on FIFA's World Cup Web site. “That is not the way of this team. We'll be playing to win.”
With the win over Togo, the Swiss sit atop the Group G standings over Korea: though the two have the same number of points, four, Switzerland has the advantage in goal differential, the first tiebreaker rule. Switzerland has now scored two goals and given up none, while Korea has three goals against two goals allowed.
If Switzerland had won 1-0, Korea would have been assured of advancing if it tied Switzerland because it would have scored more goals than the Swiss.
In a Group H contest, Spain overcame an early goal by Tunisia with three unanswered tallies in the last 20 minutes for a 3-1 victory. Spain is the eighth team to qualify for the next round. Fernando Torres, with two goals in the game, leads all scorers in this World Cup with three.
In another Group H match, Ukraine made up for its disappointing start to the World Cup by shutting out Saudi Arabia 4-0. Andriy Rusol put Ukraine ahead in the fourth minute, and the World Cup neophytes never looked back.
Ukraine needs a draw or a win against Tunisia on Friday to move on to the next round, as long as Saudi Arabia doesn't beat Spain by at least five goals.
Ukraine would play the winner of Group H, which could be either Switzerland, France or Korea.
by Yoo Jee-ho