Switzerland, Honduras draw 0-0, knocking both teams out of the World Cup

By Ryan Lucas, AP
Friday, June 25, 2010

Switzerland, Honduras draw 0-0, sending both home

BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa — Switzerland’s defense is as good as it gets in soccer. That wasn’t enough at the World Cup.

Despite yielding only one goal in three games, the Swiss did not advance to the second round because they couldn’t score against Honduras on Friday. The 0-0 draw sent Chile into the round of 16 the runner-up to Spain in Group H.

The Swiss could have locked up a spot in the second round with a two-goal win over Honduras. But Switzerland played with little urgency or creative flair until late in the match, and it couldn’t turn its domination of possession into quality scoring opportunities.

Honduras almost stole a win in the 71st minute, but goalkeeper Diego Benaglio denied a wide-open Edgar Alvarez with a brilliant one-handed save.

“We had an incredible Diego Benaglio who kept us in the game,” Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said. “But as far as our creative play, that’s not something I can be happy with. I’m not happy with my strikers, either.”

The draw ended a Swiss run in South Africa that started with a 1-0 upset win over European champion Spain. But Switzerland then lost 1-0 to Chile, and couldn’t muster a goal against winless Honduras to finish with four points. Spain and Chile had six.

Switzerland earlier set a World Cup record for consecutive scoreless minutes before Chile beat it.

“We are very disappointed. Not just me, everyone the players, the staff, the people behind the scenes,” Hitzfeld said. “In the end there is only the win against Spain, but we have to leave with our heads held high even if we didn’t make it.”

The Swiss came close in the 17th minute when Tranquillo Barnetta’s cross from the left found Eren Derdiyok at the back post, but Derdiyok headed just wide.

Striker Blaise Nkufo then had two chances just before the half. In the 43rd minute, a cross from Derdiyok found Nkufo, but the striker could only tamely chest the ball across the goalmouth. A minute later, Nkufo headed a free kick wide.

After a tight first half, the game opened up in the second with both teams facing elimination. Needing to score, Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld brought on Hakan Yakin at the break and striker Alex Frei in the 69th to liven up the Swiss attack.

But the Hondurans had the better chances, in great part because the Swiss were pushing forward.

“I think we played a good match,” Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares said. “We had much more ball possession. We felt much more self-assured … We had the chances to win but the team that scores wins.”

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