Durban: Switzerland pulled off a shock victory at the World Cup on Wednesday, beating European champion Spain 1-0 in their opening group match.
Gelson Fernandes bundled the ball into the net in the 52nd minute in one of Switzerland’s few attacks, ending Spain’s run of 12 straight wins and handing the Spanish team only its second loss in 50 games.
“Today wasn’t our day,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said. “We have two games ahead of us. We have to find a way to win them.”
Spain dominated possession throughout the match, but could find no way through Switzerland’s determined defense.
It was Switzerland’s first ever win over Spain.
Eren Derdiyok created Switzerland’s goal by surging through the center of Spain’s defense and getting around goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Gerard Pique’s tackle stopped Derdiyok, but Fernandes pounced on the loose ball and forced it into the net.
At the final whistle, Fernandes fell to his knees and raised both arms to the sky. The entire team then went to the small section of Swiss fans at the Moses Mabhida Stadium and saluted them as they cheered and rang cow bells.
Derdiyok nearly doubled the Swiss lead in the 75th minute when he shrugged off Carlos Puyol’s tackle and poked the ball past Casillas, but the shot hit the post.
Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso came closest to equalizing when his powerful drive in the 70th minute hit the cross bar.
Spain’s misery was compounded when Andres Iniesta was substituted in the 77th after a hard tackle from Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Switzerland was knocked out of the last World Cup on penalties by Ukraine in the round of 16 without conceding a goal in the tournament. The Swiss have now gone 490 minutes without conceding a World Cup goal.
Spain was lifted before kick off by the return from injury of Iniesta, but the Barcelona midfielder could not provide the spark to ignite his country’s attack.
Del Bosque brought on Liverpool striker Fernando Torres in the 62nd minute, but he too could find no way through the Swiss wall of defenders.
David Villa was Spain’s most dangerous forward, but the top scorer from the European Championship in 2008 repeatedly saw his efforts blocked or go wide.
Villa passed Lichtsteiner in the 10th minute, but goalkeeper Diego Benaglio dived at his feet to snuff out the chance. Then his free kick deflected wide off the wall after Stephane Grichting pulled down Iniesta just outside the penalty area.
In an indication to Spain’s sputtering forward play, it was center back Gerard Pique who came closest to breaking the stalemate when Iniesta’s through ball in the 24th minute set him free and he sent a low shot that Benaglio saved.
Villa showed the frustration creeping into Spain’s game when he flung both arms into the air after Iniesta had sent a shot high over the bar shortly before halftime.
A minute later, it was Villa who was guilty of failing to finish a nice move when he made room for himself on the left by cutting inside the sliding tackle of substitute Steve von Bergen, but saw his attempted lob drift well wide of the goal.
Chile beat Honduras 1-0 in the other Group H match.