FELCSUT: Israel scored an 88th-minute equaliser to grab a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their European Championship qualifier in neutral Hungary on Wednesday to keep alive their hopes of reaching next year’s finals in Germany.
The Swiss were within two minutes of booking their berth at the finals but Shon Weissman’s late goal means they must now beat Kosovo at the weekend to ensure their place at the tournament.
The unbeaten Swiss moved top of Group ‘I’, with 16 points from eight matches, but only ahead of Romania on goal difference. Israel are third on 12 points with all three countries having two games left.
Coach Murat Yakin’s Switzerland could still book their place in Germany for Euro 2024 with a win against visitors Kosovo in Basel on Saturday, before they travel to Bucharest to face Romania on Tuesday.
“It’s the third time now that we have conceded very late on,” Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer told Swiss broadcaster RTS. “In the second half we lost our organisation, we were a bit wild… we were not calm on the ball. And they had chances. Now we have two finals and we will do everything we can.”
Switzerland looked on course for victory after Ruben Vargas headed home unmarked at the back post in the 36th minute after a searching cross from fullback Edimilson Fernandes.
Weisman’s equaliser came after Fernandes failed to clear and the Swiss fullbacks woes were compounded when he was sent off in stoppage time for a clumsy foul.
The match was due to be played last month but was postponed because of the security situation in Israel following the conflict with the Palestinian group Hamas.
As a result, Israel play four games in the space of nine days to complete their qualifying campaign. They lost 1-0 in Kosovo on Sunday and next meet Romania at the Puskas Academy Arena, on the outskirts of Budapest, on Saturday. Their last game is in Andorra next Tuesday.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2023