Sweden sink Switzerland on finals bow

Switzerland 0-1 Sweden
Sweden made it a special day for the debutants at the U17 finals as they beat Group A rivals Switzerland 1-0 on their maiden outing at this level.

Gustav Engvall (left) rejoices after scoring the only goal for Sweden
Gustav Engvall (left) rejoices after scoring the only goal for Sweden ©Sportsfile

UEFA European Under-17 Championship newcomers Sweden matched fellow debutants Slovakia by posting a victory in their maiden finals appearance, beating Switzerland with a display which was more convincing than the slender scoreline suggested.

Gustav Engvall's 38th-minute strike was all that separated the two teams in Zilina, but Roland Larsson's first-timers created sufficient opportunities to have enjoyed a more handsome margin of victory. The win leaves Sweden, who play Austria on Wednesday, joint top of Group A with hosts Slovakia, who will face a Swiss side seeking a first positive result in five games at this level.

Beaten in all three group matches when they last qualified for the finals in 2010, Heinz Moser's squad had started with the determined air of a team anxious to end that run, and were only denied the opening goal by Sixten Mohlin stylishly turning aside Marco Trachsel's low shot.

However, having eased themselves in, the more clinical play came from Sweden. Their eye-catching tally of ten goals was only bettered by Germany in the elite round, and Valmir Berisha, who struck the late equaliser in Hungary that earned Sweden their finals berth, would have added a sixth in his last four competitive outings for his country but for a magnificent save from Fabian Fellmann.

The Switzerland goalkeeper brilliantly tipped over the prolific Halmstads BK forward's point-blank header, but when Berisha showed an unselfish streak to feed a pass into Engvall's run, Fellmann was powerless to prevent the Swedish forward poking the ball beyond him. Engvall, the ideal foil for Berisha, very nearly beat Fellmann again when he unexpectedly fired goalwards from 35 metres, but the backpedalling keeper proved quick and agile enough to tip the looping effort over.

Outshone up until then by his busier opposite number, Mohlin was not found wanting when Eric Briner sent a curling effort his way. He even afforded his team an opportunity to ease the tension courtesy of a long upfield punt, with Mirza Halvadzic squeezing between two Swiss defenders only to stab wide of both the onrushing Fellmann and the target.