In what could go down as the biggest upset of the 2010 World Cup, Switzerland shocked Spain with a 1-0 victory Wednesday in Durban.
Despite getting outplayed for the entire match, the Swiss were able to hold on after midfielder Gelson Fernandes opened the scoring in the 54th minute in a bizarre goalmouth scramble.
Swiss striker Eren Derdiyok picked up the ball on a quick touch pass and blew past two Spanish defenders. Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas proceeded to rush out to challenge the attempt, but the ball ricocheted off Gerard Pique and ultimately ended up on the boot of Fernandes who tapped it into the open net.
Although Spain attempted to push back in the ensuing moments, its repeated cross-box attempts were easily disregarded and the insertion of Fernando Torres in the 61st minute failed to produce a goal.
The Spaniards threw everything they had at the formidable Swiss defence—including a harrowing strike off the crossbar by Xabi Alonso—but the 2008 European Champions failed to convert despite the monstrous advantage in possession.
Spain dominated possession in the first half, owning the ball for nearly 70 per cent. They finished the match with a 63 to 37 advantage while outshooting the Swiss 8-3.
The current trend of low scoring games continued early on, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
Although the Spaniards failed to get on the score sheet, they showed why they were considered heavy favourites coming in, demonstrating stylish ball movement and fluid control.
If the loss wasn’t enough to put Spanish supporters in a state of mourning, star midfielder Andres Iniesta hobbled off the field after an aggressive challenge.
Swiss players Stephane Grichting, Reto Ziegler, Diego Benaglio and Hakan Yakin picked up yellow cards in the win.
Up next for Spain is a date against Honduras on June 21, while Switzerland and Chile will face-off in a significant match, as the winner will punch its ticket to the next round.
No team that has lost their opening match have gone on to win the World Cup while only eight per cent have advanced to the next round.