The second match of Group A saw Wales and Switzerland fight hard for a draw, with the match ending at 1-1.
After a confident start, Wales came under sustained pressure from the Swiss. After 10 mins, the Swiss had had 77% possession, with their left-back Rodriguez making regular runs into the Welsh final third. Soon, Granit Xhaka had his customary long shots, and the Swiss seemed to be settling well. If Wales were soaking up the pressure, they were doing a good job: apart from the shot by Xhaka, there was little to scare Welsh fans. In fact, in the 15th minute, the Welsh nearly took the lead thanks to Moore’s lovely, looping header, only to be denied by an excellent save by Sommer.
By the 28th minute, Swiss had continued to control possession with over 70% of the ball. For Wales, Bale remained on the periphery, but the same could not be said of Daniel James of Manchester United. At the 30th minute mark, James took off with his customary sprint and was fouled by Fabian Schar, who deservedly got a Yellow card for his blatant foul. The resultant free-kick by Bale floated delightfully into the box but found no takers.
The last ten minutes of the match turned scrappy, with little flow and a series of passes with no threats. However, in the 46th minute, Seferovic was presented with a lovely chance after Embolo showed great strength to keep the ball and then pass to Seferovic, but he shot wide.
Interestingly, the Welsh defender was pulling Embolo’s t-shirt, and if he had gone down, this could have very well been a penalty. But Seferovic missed a golden chance to go into the break with a lead. The first half clearly belonged to Switzerland but had little to show for all the possession.
For Wales, it seemed that the second half motto would be the same as the first: pass the ball to Bale and hope for the best.
Embolo made a bright start to the second half and took a lovely shot in the 48th minute but it was saved well by Ward.
From the resulting corner, finally, Embolo scored a lovely header. Few, if any, could argue against the Swiss lead. Wales were on the back foot for most of the match, but they had no option but to attack now. A small stat: Switzerland had never lost when Embolo had scored.
Embolo once again tore through the Welsh midfield and almost served a chance on a plate to Mbabu, but he ended up neither taking a shot nor passing it to a teammate. In six opening minutes of the second half, it seemed Embolo was single-handedly taking on the entire Welsh team. And winning.
Dan James seemed to be waging a lonely battle on the wings, with good runs but had little or no support from his teammates.
On the other hand, Embolo continued to create problems, but couldn’t capitalise on their advantage. Welsh continued to toil but had no rewards, until the 74th minute.
A short corner came back on the right flank for Morell, who curled a lovely ball into the box for Moore to score a classic forward’s goal and bring Wales on level terms. Well deserved? Maybe not, but well crafted? Yes. With ten minutes to go, the match was wonderfully poised. Seferovic made way for Gavranovic in the 84th minute, who nearly had the perfect start. With his first touch, Gavranovic turned a header from Embolo, only for the VAR to rule if offside. Switzerland nearly scored in the 90th minute from a corner, but Ward made a smart save to deny them the winner.
Wales: Ward, Connor Roberts, Mepham, Rodon, Ben Davies, Allen, Morrell, Ramsey, Bale, Moore, James.
Subs: Hennessey, Gunter, Neco Williams, Lockyer, Wilson, Tyler Roberts, Ampadu, Norrington-Davies, Jonathan Williams, Brooks, Adam Davies, Levitt.
Switzerland: Sommer, Elvedi, Schar, Akanji, Mbabu, Xhaka, Freuler, Rodriguez, Shaqiri, Embolo, Seferovic.
Subs: Widmer, Zakaria, Vargas, Mvogo, Zuber, Sow, Fassnacht, Benito, Mehmedi, Gavranovic, Omlin, Comert.
Referee: Clement Turpin (France)
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