Rush Loses Out in Switzerland Clash
Switzerland's promising fullback Ricardo Rodríguez turned in a Man of the Match display to help his side ease to a 4-2 win over Ian Rush's Wales.
Switzerland hosted Wales, who featured the likes of Lloyd Isgrove, Karl Darlow and Jake Cassidy in the squad - all of whom were making their international debuts.
Switzerland XI vs Wales
(4-5-1)Sommer; Lichsteiner, Klose, Senderos, Rodríguez; Dzemaili, Inler (C), Shaqiri, Kasami, Stocker; Derdiyok.
Substitutes: Bürki, Barnetta, Xhaka, Seferovic, Schär, Schwegler, Djourou, Drmic, Ziegler, Lang, Nikci, Wölfli.
Wales XI vs Switzerland
(4-5-1)Darlow; Ricketts, Williams (C), Collins, Davies; Crofts, Allen, Ramsey, Williams, Robson-Kanu; Cassidy.
Substitutes: Hennessey, Matthews, Isgrove, Davies, Taylor, Collison, Morrison, Lynch, Collins, Vokes, Cotterill, Myhill.
Switzerland kicked off the match, against a Wales side that featured two debutants in the starting lineup. Xherdan Shaqiri impressed with some dazzling skill, and fantastic runs from early on, but it was one man who grabbed the headlines.
When Ben Davies gave away a free-kick on the edge of the Wales penalty area, Ricardo Rodríguez stepped up to take the set-piece from all of 30 yards out. Nobody expected the ball to fly sweetly into the top corner of Darlow's net, but it did. A fantastic strike from the Swiss fullback gave his team the lead, but not for long.
Jake Cassidy, starting in his first ever game for the Welsh national side, capitalized on a shocking error from Switzerland captain Gökhan Inler not two minutes later. After Senderson ran into trouble, he decided to play it back to Inler, but the Napoli player was not expecting the pass - the ball struck him on the leg, and fell into 20-year-old Cassidy's path. Goalkeeper Yann Sommer had came out to redeem his team-mates mistake, but in doing so had left the goal open, and the Wolverhampton Wanderers striker had an easy chance. For the majority of the match, Inler was sat in a very deep position, and it was clear he was uncomfortable here.
Just after the half hour mark, Wales actually had the chance to take the lead. Jon Williams and Aaron Ramsey's link-up play saw Williams into a great position on the edge of the Switzerland area, but the Crystal Palace midfielder struck the ball straight at Sommer. A wasted opportunity for Wales, who could have pushed on had they taken the lead.
As the game entered the final stages of the first half, Switzerland regained the lead, Shaqiri's hard work finally paying off. After a great spell of dominance from Switzerland, they launched an attack on the Wales goal. Building it slowly from the back, Philippe Senderos knocked the ball forward to Valentin Stocker on the edge of the area. The Basel winger knocked a perfect through ball to Shaqiri, who finished past Darlow with ease.
Ian Rush brought on Lloyd Isgrove for his debut, the Southampton winger replacing Jon Williams at half time. Cassidy also headed for the bench following an impressive start to his international career, replaced by Sam Vokes, while Joe Allen was taken off for Jack Collison, and Ben Davies made way for Swansea City team mate Neil Taylor.
Xherdan Shaqiri nearly finished The Dragons off straight after the half time break, smashing the ball against the post from range. Darlow was beaten, but the post saved the debutant keeper.
Shaqiri looked despondent when substitute Sam Vokes bagged Wales' equalizer. It may have been a counter attack that saw them score the goal, but credit to the side, and especially the two players involved in the goal. The defence broke down the Switzerland attack, and the ball was played to Hal Robson-Kanu on the halfway line. His excellent vision allowed him to play an inch perfect pass to Vokes, who had made a fantastic run to get clear of the defence and beat the offside trap. He finished calmly past Sommer to make the score 2-2.
Isgrove came so close to being the second debutant to score, when he was played through by a huge goal kick from Darlow. The 20-year-old took the ball to the edge of the area, but fired over the top of the goal by inches. He looked distraught, but he will learn from these mistakes.
Welsh captain Ashley Williams almost handed Switzerland the lead on a plate, but for an offside flag. He got caught in possession by two Swiss players just wide of the penalty area, and smashed the ball away, but Shaqiri intercepted and played through Derdiyok, Darlow was beaten for the third time, but the assistant referee correctly called an offside - Derdiyok was inches offside when Shaqiri threaded the ball through to him.
It looked like neither team was able to break the deadlock, until Switzerland substitute Haris Seferovic scored the best goal of the evening past Darlow. Fellow substitute Tranquillo Barnetta laid on a fantastic ball for the Real Sociedad striker, who opted to chip the ball at the goal, despite Darlow being stuck on his line. The Nottingham Forest keeper gave his best effort to reach the ball, but it settled right into the top corner of the net, giving Darlow no chance at saving it.
Switzerland finally showed their superiority a minute afterwards, Derdiyok scoring the final goal of the game, Barnetta with the assist again. Derdiyok rounded Darlow, before firing into an empty net. James Collins attempted to clear the ball off of the line, but he was too late. The final whistle went at 4-2.
Wales gave their best efforts, and showed that they were not easy to beat, but Switzerland showed their skill late on, and finally finished off the hard working Welsh team.