There was plenty of scrapping and some few moments of brilliance on Tuesday night as Switzerland played hosts to a Costa Rica side that failed to qualify for South Africa 2010. After a stunning goal from Winston Parks in the second half, the visitors ran out eventual winners of this international friendly.
FC Sion's home of Stade Tourbillon was the set for the game, and the hosts made quick use of the home advantage. Speeding forward down the left flank soon after kick-off, Sampdoria's Marco Padalino made it known that he was there to work hard for his spot in the team in the absence of Valon Behrami. Padalino cut inside and tried to trouble the Costa Rica 'keeper, but Keylor Navas did well to recover.
However, after the early thrust from the Swiss, Costa Rica soon began to enjoy the more of the ball. After a corner kick was awarded to the visiting side, the ball fell to the feet of Gonzalo Segares, but the defender's venomous shot was well blocked by Wolfsburg's Diego Benaglio.
Both teams began to carve out chances at either end, Arsenal-owned Phillippe Senderos letting fly from an inswung delivery, but it was definitely the South Americans that looked the more comfortable on the ball as they calmly moved the ball around in the final third.
Romania-based striker Winston Parks almost found himself through with only Benaglio to beat as the half wore on, but the dreadlocked hitman mistimed his run and was adjudged to be in an offside position.
The game slowed down to a scrappy dredge as the half drew to a close, but there was one clear-cut chance before the referee called for the end of the first period. Bryan Ruiz slid the ball through for Winston Parks, who looked poise to nip the ball past Benaglio, but Stephan Lichtsteiner was there to put in a last-ditch tackle and avoid a disaster.
Parks life | Upset for Switzerland
Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld opted to bring on defender Steve von Bergen after the break, despite a poor season at his relegated German club Hertha Berlin. It seemed to pay off for a short while though, as the Costa Rican attack seemed to calm down for a spell.
The hosts won a free kick just inside their opponents' half and Alexander Frei stood over the ball, even though he was one of the tallest figures on the pitch. The ball was swung in beautifully, but the ball rolled past three Swiss internationals before heading out for a goal kick.
With 56 minutes on the clock, Winston Parks turned it up a gear and broke the deadlock. The striker picked up the ball in the Swiss half before beating no less than three defenders and turning the ball in past Benaglio.
Several changes were made by Hitzfeld in an attempt to salvage something from the sinking ship, including the introduction of highly regarded Leverkusen youngster Eren Derdiyok, and it seemed to spark some life into the hosts.
Derdiyok ran towards goal, doing everything right, before sending the ball square for Alex Frei. The skipper failed to score though, as his first touch was heavy and the ball rolled out to safety. It really should have been 1-1 at that point.
And that really seemed to sum up the remainder of the game. Some scrappy challenges ensued in the dying stages, and clear cut chances were few. Losing 1-0 to a side that failed to qualify for the World Cup, Ottmar Hitzfeld looks like he might have his hands full as he looks forward to South Africa.
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