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Swiss take their chances

Ricardo Cabanas and Alexander Frei scored as Switzerland beat Portugal 2-0 in Zürich.

Two second-half goals gave Switzerland three valuable Group 1 points as they overcame an unlucky Portuguese side in their UEFA European Under-21 Championship match in the Hardturm Stadium.

'Extraordinary game'
In a game described by Swiss coach Bernard Challendes as "extraordinary", much-fancied Portugal hit the woodwork three times and had a goal disallowed. But with the benefit of the home support, Switzerland battled hard for their 2-0 victory, which came courtesy of a penalty from Ricardo Cabanas and Alexander Frei's bullet header.

'Speed in attack'
In addition to breaking down his side, the goalscorers caught the eye of Portugal coach Agostinho de Oliveira, who said: "Switzerland had a lot of speed in attack. They were very well-organised in defence and midfield too - I was particularly impressed by their goalkeeper."

Beney outstanding
The stopper in question, FC Sion's Nicolas Beney, was called into action as soon as the eighth minute when Hugo Viana, the pick of the Portuguese players, delivered the first of several outstanding free-kicks. The Sporting Clube de Portugal midfield player struck a left-footed effort from 25 metres, only to see Beney palm the ball over the crossbar.

Audacious lob
Three minutes later Beney was in action again, back-pedalling as Miguel's audacious 20-metre lob struck the crossbar above his head. Then Cabanas became the first of five players to be booked in what was a high-tempo, rough-and-tumble encounter.

Goal disallowed
Midway through the first half, Hugo Viana slid the ball past Beney and in off the far post from an almost impossible angle, only to be denied by the referee's assistant's flag, and it seemed only a matter of time before Portugal would break the deadlock.

Frustrations showing
Tiago and Tonel followed Cabanas into the book for tackles on Daniel Gygax and Elvir Melunovic respectively as Portugal's frustrations began to show and when Hugo Viana hit Beney's left-hand post with another curling free-kick on the half-hour mark, they must have wondered whether or not it was going to be their day.

Frei denied
Switzerland gradually edged their way into the game and, but for a spectacular goal-line clearance, would have taken the lead seconds before half-time. Frei's flying header at the far post seemed destined for the net, but Tiago dived to his right and unwittingly blocked the ball with a point-blank header. From the ensuing corner, Keller was cautioned for his challenge on Portugal keeper Sérgio Leite.

Briguel chance
After the break, great interplay between Hugo Viana and Aziza Makukula led to a chance for Briguel, whose curling effort clipped Reto Zanni's head and dropped just over the bar.

Deadlock broken
The opening goal came on the hour after Vasco Faísca's foul gave Switzerland a free-kick near the right-hand touchline. Meyer floated the ball to the back post where Briguel barged over Zanni and Cabanas duly sent Sérgio Leite the wrong way with a well-struck penalty.

Portuguese chances
Ferreira Rodrigues almost grabbed an instant equaliser but Beney was equal to his angled header, then Portugal twice went close again. First Ednilson's free-kick went narrowly over the bar and moments later substitute Paulo Costa sent a left-foot drive skidding fractionally wide.

Frei up
Switzerland doubled their lead 17 minutes from time when a free-kick from Cabanas found Frei unmarked six metres out, level with the back post, where the Servette FC striker rose to power a header back across goal.

Spilled shots
Thunderbolt shots at both ends of the field failed to add to the score, although neither keeper was able to hold the efforts in question. Hugo Viana opted for power rather than swerve with his 22-metre free-kick, parried wide by Beney, then Alain Rochat's drive was spilled by Sérgio Leite, but Frei was not quick enough to pounce on the loose ball.

Glaring miss
André Muff's booking was followed by Portugal winning a free-kick 30 metres out, but Hugo Viana's powerful drive was blocked by Beney, diving low to his left. But as the clock ran down, there was still one incredible passage of play to come. Hugo Viana let fire with a stunning 35-metre effort, which Beney palmed onto the post. The keeper was left on the floor and appeared helpless when Portugal António Semedo pounced on the rebound, but the substitute hit the bar with the goal at his mercy, summing up his side's day.

'Bad luck'
De Oliveira said: "We had some bad luck with shots that hit the woodwork, but mathematically we still have a chance. We'll do everything we can to win against England and then see what happens." Portugal face England on Wednesday, while Switzerland complete their Group 1 fixtures with a game against the Italians. Challendes added: "This Championship has been magical for us and now we have the chance to play Italy for a place in the semi-finals in Basel - so why can we not go on dreaming? We wanted it so much today, my players showed tremendous courage, they gave everything."