Co-hosts Switzerland brought the curtain down on their UEFA EURO 2008 campaign with a stirring performance at St. Jakob Park, signing off with a victory thanks to two second-half goals from Hakan Yakin.
Though it was not enough to take them off the bottom of Group A, the win restored pride in a side who had been left with little else to play for after opening the tournament with successive defeats. Yakin struck on 71 minutes then again from the penalty spot with seven minutes left. Prior to that, a second-string Portugal team – featuring only three starters from their previous victory – had made enough chances to win, although they should be back at full strength when they return here for Thursday's quarter-final.
Köbi Kuhn was overseeing his last match in charge of Switzerland and he recalled ever-popular 37-year-old goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbühler for his first taste of UEFA EURO 2008 while midfielder Johan Vonlanthen replaced Tranquillo Barnetta. Though there was nothing at stake in the group, Switzerland fans were determined to give Kuhn and his side a rousing send-off and they were in full voice early on.
Portugal, though, were giving more reason to cheer. Luiz Felipe Scolari's reserves were playing for their places and Ricardo Quaresma showed his credentials on seven minutes with a delightful pass flicked from behind his standing leg which Hélder Postiga headed wide. Ten minutes later Nani caught the eye, firing a low free-kick into the box to Pepe whose touch was spectacularly tipped on to the bar by Zuberbühler.
It was not all one-way traffic, however, and goalkeeper Ricardo pushed a Gökhan Inler effort over before blocking Valon Behrami's shot with his legs. Chances were coming thick and fast, and just before the half-hour Ricardo was again pressed into action to palm away Yakin's header. With the latter stages of the competition in mind, Scolari brought on Jorge Ribeiro – brother of Maniche, a star of the 2004 finals – for Paulo Ferreira in the 41st minute as the Chelsea FC full-back had been booked.
The start of the second half brought more missed opportunities. Postiga headed over, Nani hit the post when clean through, and Zuberbühler saved from Quaresma. Quite what Eusébio, watching from the stands, made of such profligacy did not bear thinking about. Portugal were almost made to pay when substitute Barnetta snapped a shot at goal from close range on the hour – Pepe coming to the rescue with a brilliant block. Four minutes later Vonlanthen had the cow bells ringing again with a rasping drive that clipped the post.
The breakthrough finally came on 71 minutes when Eren Derdiyok's deft touch slipped Yakin in behind the Portugal defence and the 31-year-old rifled the ball beyond Ricardo. Yakin made sure of the points after 83 minutes with a powerfully struck penalty after Fernando Meira had impeded Barnetta's run in the box. That left St. Jakob Park buzzing, yet it is the Portuguese who live to fight another day.