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Spain stunned by Switzerland

Spain 0-1 Switzerland
Gelson Fernandes struck in the 52nd minute to stun the European champions who could not turn possession into goals in Durban.

Switzerland celebrate at full time in Durban
Switzerland celebrate at full time in Durban ©Getty Images

Switzerland made a superb start to the FIFA World Cup after beating European champions Spain 1-0 in their Group H opener in Durban.

Despite dominating the game for large swathes, Spain could not crack a resolute Switzerland defence and Gelson Fernandes pounced in the 52nd minute to give Ottmar Hitzfeld's side all three points. Spain went close on numerous occasions in the second half, but Switzerland held firm to join Chile on top of the section.

It did not take long for Spain to slip into their trademark slick passing style. However, apart from Gerard Piqué forcing Diego Benaglio into a fine point-blank save, La Roja struggled to break down the Switzerland rearguard. First-half frustration was encapsulated just before break when crisp one-touch play released David Villa, but the new FC Barcelona recruit could only flick the ball across goal.

Switzerland had rarely offered a threat during the opening period, and defender Philippe Senderos was forced off late in the first half, but seven minutes after the break they were in front. Eren Derdiyok sped on to Benaglio's long clearance and although Iker Casillas raced out to meet the striker, the ball squirmed free and in the ensuing scramble, Fernandes stabbed in past a prostrate Piqué.

Spain regrouped and laid siege to the Switzerland goal. Villa, Andrés Iniesta and substitute Fernando Torres all had sightings before Xabi Alonso crashed a drive off the bar. Derdiyok then went just as close at the other end, hitting the post after a mazy run. It was one-way traffic in the last ten minutes but Vicente del Bosque's side could not find a way through and will hope to kick-start their campaign against Honduras on Monday, when Switzerland will meet Chile, who earlier today defeated the CONCACAF representatives 1-0.