Scotland storm through with Switzerland
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Scotland recorded three straight victories to take pole position in Group 9 and graduate to the elite round, while Switzerland squeezed through behind them on goal difference.
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Scotland strung together three successive victories to finish as Group 9 winners and graduate to the elite round, where they will be joined by runners-up Switzerland.
Tournament mini-hosts Scotland were impressive from the off as they swept Armenia aside 4-0, Joe Chalmers, Matthew Kennedy, Barrie McKay and Lewis McLeod all scoring in the space of 21 second-half minutes. That put Richard Sbragia's side top of the table right from the start, with Switzerland drawing 1-1 with Romania in Falkirk. Mihai Voduţ gave Romania a 19th-minute lead, before Endogan Adili replied ahead of the interval.
The Swiss then boosted their bid with a 4-0 win against Armenia in Hamilton, Thibault Corbaz breaking the deadlock after 35 minutes and Salim Khelifi, Albion Avdijaj and substitute Michael Frey all chipping in after the break. Scotland won too, booking their passage to the elite round by downing Romania 1-0 thanks to John Herron's effort close to half-time.
Romania and Switzerland thus went into their final matches with hopes of joining the home side in the 5 December elite round draw as runners-up, though Romania needed to beat Armenia to have any chance of that happening. They duly obliged, Darius Buia clinching a narrow 1-0 success with just eight minutes remaining.
As a result, Adrian Vasii's troops had to hope for a heavy Switzerland defeat to advance on goal difference, but heartbreak was in store as Scotland edged a 4-3 success. Chalmers and Frey exchanged goals in the early stages before Corbaz put Switzerland in front, and Claude Ryf's side went ahead again in the second half through Frey after Islam Feruz had made it 2-2. The final word went to Feruz, though, with the Chelsea FC striker completing a perfect hat-trick – scoring with his left foot, right foot and head – to seal a fine comeback win.
Second place therefore belonged to Switzerland, and Romania must now wait for the rest of the qualifying round groups to finish to see if they can go through as the third-placed team with the best record against the top pair in their section.