Switzerland’s Blerim Dzemaili, top celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during the group E match between Switzerland and Costa Rica, at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod , Russia, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Natasha Pisarenko)

Brazil and Switzerland advance at World Cup

Brazil ultimately topped a group the five-time World Cup winner was expected to win, sending Serbia and Costa Rica home

Switzerland is through to a knockout game against Sweden at the World Cup. Half of its starting defence isn’t.

Switzerland qualified second in Group E behind Brazil despite twice losing the lead in a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica on Wednesday night. The riveting game culminated with an injury-time penalty from Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz that hit the crossbar and went in off Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer’s head.

Despite the late drama, a draw was enough to send Switzerland through to the knockout stage.

But the bad news for the Swiss: Yellow cards for captain Stephan Lichtsteiner and fellow defender Fabian Schaer — their second of the tournament — meant they’ll be suspended for the Sweden match in St. Petersburg.

Their absence leaves two gaping holes to be filled at the back as Switzerland chases a place in the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time since 1954.

“This is certainly not an ideal scenario,” Switzerland midfielder Blerim Dzemaili said. “We don’t need to look at who’s not there, we need to look at who will be able to play. This is very disappointing.”

Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic’s gamble to play the two key defenders while they were already on yellow cards backfired in a game where the team only needed a draw to progress. As it turned out, Switzerland could have lost to already-eliminated Costa Rica and still gone through because Brazil beat Serbia 2-0.

Serbia had a chance to pass Switzerland for second place, but Brazil ended up dominating that match. Brazil will face Group F runner-up Mexico Monday and Switzerland plays Sweden Tuesday.

“I think the team can cope (against Sweden),” Petkovic said. “It’s too bad for those two guys but it’s too late now to lament that and correct that.”

Right back Lichtsteiner received his yellow for a studs-up tackle in the first half. Central defender Schaer got his late on, with seven minutes to go of normal time.

Switzerland had led Costa Rica against the run of play in Nizhny Novgorod when Dzemaili slammed in the first goal from close range in the 31st minute.

Dzemaili didn’t replicate the politically charged double-headed Albanian eagle hand-signal celebrations that Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Lichtsteiner all used in the game against Serbia that earned them combined fines of $25,000 from FIFA.

Costa Rica decided they had had enough of being losers at this World Cup.

The Central Americans avoided being the only team to go home from Russia without a goal when defender Kendall Waston rose to head in a corner early in the second half to equalize at 1-1.

Substitute Josip Drmic put Switzerland ahead again with a first-time shot from a cross in the 88th minute.

Costa Rica, surprise quarterfinalists in Brazil four years ago, lifted themselves again.

Moments after referee Clement Turpin of France consulted the video assistant referee and turned down a Costa Rica penalty claim, Los Ticos did get a spot-kick.

Joel Campbell was hacked down on the left side of the penalty area by Denis Zakaria in injury time, giving Ruiz the chance to send Costa Rica home with the consolation of a point for a draw.

He took it, via the back of goalie Sommer’s head. The goal was given as an own goal by Sommer. That brought the World Cup total to eight own goals, already two higher than the 1998 record.

GROUP DYNAMICS:

Brazil ultimately topped a group the five-time World Cup winner was expected to win. It didn’t come easy for after a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in its opening game. Costa Rica also frustrated Neymar and the Brazilians until two goals in injury-time. Brazil was solid against Serbia, with goals in each half by Paulinho and Thiago Silva seeing it through.

Switzerland did enough to hold on to second place.

KEY TO SUCCESS:

Switzerland will undoubtedly miss right back Lichtsteiner and central defender Schaer for the game against Sweden, which proved it will be a handful with a 3-0 win earlier Wednesday over Mexico.

Switzerland has the potential up front with the likes of Dzemaili and creative midfielders Shaqiri and Xhaka, but all the focus against Sweden will be now be on how to shore up the defence.

Costa Rica was in danger of becoming the first team since Algeria and Honduras in 2010 to leave a World Cup without a goal. Waston, who plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer, made sure that didn’t happen.

“Our group was very tough,” Costa Rica coach Oscar Ramirez said. “But that’s the way football is. I insist that we played against very good teams.”

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Chilliwack Curling Club moves into new building

After 54 years next door, the Chilliwack Curling Club takes over a 30,000 square foot facility.

VIDEO: Tourism Chilliwack reveals beautiful new brand

Awe-inspiring video unveiled before hundreds of community partners Tuesday

Retirement after owning Main Street Barber Shop for 38 years

Phil and Trudi are looking forward to travelling and spending time with family

Faulty wiring blamed for Chilliwack barn fire Sunday morning

One civilian injured attempting to extinguish blaze on Ballam Road

GW Graham seniors bow out of football playoffs as juniors move on

The senior Grizzlies fell to the John Barsby Bulldogs in a AA playoff game last Saturday.

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

The latest advent calendar trend: Holiday cannabis

A Canadian company is giving people from coast to coast a new way to celebrate the Christmas countdown.

B.C. woman allegedly threatens to rip out intestines of American man

A Kamloops-area woman is accused of harassing and threatening to disembowel an American man

B.C. model looks a lot like expanded taxi industry, ride-hailing group says

Ridesharing Now for BC says it had hoped the bill would be more customer-driven like in other cities

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

731,000 Canadians going into debt to buy prescription drugs: UBC

Millennials and those without private coverage were more likely to borrow money

Most Read