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Zuber treble eases Switzerland beyond Georgia

Switzerland 5-0 Georgia
The home side completed the double over Georgia in Group 5 thanks in part to a brilliant hat-trick from forward Steven Zuber.

Steven Zuber celebrates one of his three goals against Georgia
Steven Zuber celebrates one of his three goals against Georgia ©Keystone

A first-half hat-trick from Steven Zuber inspired Switzerland to a stylish win against Georgia in UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 5.

Georgia simply could not handle the Grasshopper-Club forward, while keeping him at what seemed a safe distance from goal proved equally futile, as he demonstrated with two stunning strikes from outside the penalty area. Nassim Ben Khalifa was also on target for the 2011 runners-up before the break, with Raphael Koch rounding off the scoring just after the hour.

Zuber's first goal, in the eighth minute, was unspectacular in comparison to his later efforts, the 20-year-old keeping his composure to slide the ball past goalkeeper Giorgi Makaridze after Haris Seferovic's pass had bisected the Georgia defence. He was then involved in setting up the second for Ben Khalifa, who profited from Zuber's quick thinking from a short corner to thread the ball thorough Makaridze's legs.

Zuber then began his masterclass with an unstoppable dipping volley, before Seferovic, not wanting to be outdone by his team-mate, unleashed a 25-metre effort which cannoned back off the crossbar. Zuber completed his treble with the pick of the bunch three minutes before half-time, tricking his way past Ivane Kandelaki on the left before wrapping his right foot around the ball to curl a cross-cum-shot into the far corner of Makaridze's goal.

Seferovic missed two one-on-one chances early in the second half but turned provider for Koch to head in the fifth after 64th minutes. Switzerland face Spain, who they lost to in this summer's final in Denmark, on Monday in a top-of-the-table encounter. Georgia, whose next qualifier is in June, are third, seven points behind today's hosts.