Nizhny Novgorod: Switzerland knocked out Costa Rica with a thrilling 2-2 draw, which was enough for them to progress to the round of 16 in their Group E fixture at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium here on Wednesday.
With this, Switzerland progressed from the group stage to the knockout stage in the last four of the five World Cups in which they appeared (1994, 2006 and 2014). They only failed to qualify beyond the group stage in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Although Costa Rica were eliminated from the tournament, they were off to a bright start. The players from both Switzerland and Costa Rica burnt the midnight oil to give their respective teams a dominating start.
Switzerland provided the first breakthrough, when in the 31st minute, midfielder Blerim Dzemaili blasted a goal via a beautiful pass by Stephan Lichtsteiner.
In the second half, defender Kendall Waston scored a brilliant header to help Costa Rica equalise in the 56th minute, inviting loud cheers and wild celebrations from both the players and the fans respectively.
Thereafter, the next half an hour was full of intensity and aggression as both Costa Rica and Switzerland tried hard to net a goal and gain an upper lead.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 88th minute, when substitute Josip Drmic scored Switzerland’s second goal to put his team ahead and looked set to collect three more points.
But, in the dying minutes of the game, Costa Rican skipper Bryan Ruiz missed a penalty chance as the ball struck the underside of the crossbar. But it hit Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer’s back and touched the net of the goalpost, thereby changing the scoreline from 2-1 to 2-2.
Switzerland will now lock horns with Sweden next week.
Earlier, five-time world champions Brazil eased past Serbia with a fantastic 2-0 win, in their Group E match to progress to the round of 16 at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.
With this, Brazil finished the top of Group E with seven points in their kitty and will face Mexico in the knockout round. (ANI)