Switzerland see off Ireland for play-off place

Switzerland 1-0 Republic of Ireland
Fabian Frei scored the decisive goal early in the second period in Lugano as the home team secured top spot in Group 2.

Switzerland celebrate their victory
Switzerland celebrate their victory ©Keystone

Switzerland secured first place in UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group 2 as a Fabian Frei goal early in the second period proved enough to defeat the Republic of Ireland.

Pierluigi Tami's team kicked off their final qualifying fixture four points above Turkey – who have two games left to play – knowing a win would book their play-off berth. They found the going tough against Wim Koevermans' Ireland team, but made the decisive breakthrough three minutes into the second period.

Sébastien Wüthrich was the architect of the move, finding Frei with a clever pass and the FC St. Gallen midfielder made no mistake, drilling a low shot into the corner of the net from outside the penalty area. Switzerland therefore go into next Friday's play-off draw and Tami said: "I was nervous for much of the game. The players were more focused in the second half – they are a very young and inexperienced group and did well to gain top spot."

Ireland, who are three points adrift at the bottom of the six-team section, conclude their campaign in Turkey on Tuesday and Koevermans said: "We had a number of good chances early in the game. Some poor defending led to their goal. We tried to play more attacking football after and a point would have been deserved."