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Slovakia close in with thrilling Switzerland draw

Slovakia 2-2 Switzerland
The hosts fought back from two goals down to salvage a draw and ease themselves to within touching distance of the semi-finals.

Slovakia close in with thrilling Switzerland draw
Slovakia close in with thrilling Switzerland draw ©UEFA.com

Slovakia are just a point away from clinching a place in the 2013 UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-finals after coming from behind to draw 2-2 with Switzerland, who finished with ten men. 

Marco Trachsel and Robin Kamber put Switzerland in a commanding position inside half an hour in Zilina, but Atila Varga's strike on the stroke of half-time and a second goal from substitute Martin Slaninka on 69 minutes, earned the hosts a point. Heinz Moser's team will be without Trachsel, sent off with nine minutes left, when they face Austria in a game they must win to have any chance of reaching the last four.

Having seen his side win on their finals bow, home coach Ladislav Pecko unsurprisingly named the same starting XI which had undone Austria. Bright though the Slovaks' start was, greater precision would have been required to turn their evident enthusiasm into clear-cut opportunities. Pecko's opposite number Moser introduced three new faces to the team beaten by Sweden, and was rewarded with greater efficiency in front of goal.

When a shot was deflected into the path of Trachsel, he fired emphatically beyond Martin Junas, who was quickly beaten again when Joao De Oliveira burst down the right before picking out Kamber to finish from close range. Stunned, the hosts' spirits were revived by a healthy-sized crowd, and their prospects were improved just as the interval approached.

Fortune favoured Pecko's young charges at a corner, and when the ball broke, Varga swept in. Having performed superbly against Austria, goalkeeper Junas executed two more first-class saves, first turning aside Eric Briner's free-kick and then palming away a drive from substitute Nicolas Hunziker.

Swiss frustrations were exacerbated when Slaninka touched in Tomáš Vestenický's cross 11 minutes from time, and the subsequent red card for Trachsel and resulting Slovakia rally – which included Filip Lesniak rifling just over – meant a nervy finale for Moser.