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'Deserved win' has Shaqiri plotting fairy-tale finale

Published: Thursday 23 June 2011, 1.10CET
Man of the match Xherdan Shaqiri shared the credit for Switzerland's win against the Czechs around a dressing room which he believes has the potential to go on and beat Spain.
by Simon Hart
from Herning Stadion

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Published: Thursday 23 June 2011, 1.10CET

'Deserved win' has Shaqiri plotting fairy-tale finale

Man of the match Xherdan Shaqiri shared the credit for Switzerland's win against the Czechs around a dressing room which he believes has the potential to go on and beat Spain.

Xherdan Shaqiri wants Switzerland to script a fairy-tale ending to their Under-21 finals campaign after they progressed to Saturday's final against Spain by overcoming a stubborn Czech Republic side.

Pierluigi Tami's team have won all four games in Denmark and are still to concede a goal after a 1-0 victory secured by Admir Mehmedi's goal with six minutes remaining in extra time.

Now Spain stand between the Swiss and a first U21 crown, and playmaker Shaqiri believes his side have what it takes to claim the trophy. "Why shouldn't we do it? We have a very good team," the 19-year-old said. "We have the potential to beat Spain. We're not favourites, so we can play freely in the final. It's an important thing for us to be in the final. It's a great opportunity. I think the whole of Switzerland is looking forward to this game. We want to write a fairy tale."

The Swiss were deserved winners in the face of a doughty defensive effort by their Czech opponents in Herning, with Shaqiri going closer than anybody to breaking the deadlock in normal time with a shot against the post.

The FC Basel 1893 schemer added: "We were clearly the better side, we had more ball possession. We were the ones who tried more. I think we deserved to be in the final come the end of the game."

No10 Shaqiri earned the Carlsberg Sport Man of the Match award for his night's work but stressed the collective endeavour that has got Switzerland this far. "It's the second time I've won one of these wonderful trophies, maybe it's time to start thinking about giving one to the team. The team is the most important thing, we have a good team. We have done it together and we have all earned the right to be in the final."

While defender Timm Klose admitted he thought the match was "going to penalties", he said the Swiss were fortunate to have players able to make the difference. "As you know, there is always one player who makes the difference between two teams," the 23-year-old said. "This time it was Mehmedi, next time maybe it'll be Shaqiri. We also have [Innocent] Emeghara. They are good players and sometimes they make the difference with some beautiful skills. We have to do our job in defence so they can do their job in attack."

No country has reached the U21 final before without conceding a goal and the Swiss have set another landmark by booking Olympic qualification – 83 years after their last appearance at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam. Switzerland goalkeeper and captain Yann Sommer summed up the delight in the camp when he said: "It's an indescribable feeling, to play at the EUROs and not concede one goal, to make it to the semis and then qualify for the Olympics and for the final. It's massive, I cannot say any more."

Last updated: 25/06/11 22.08CET

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