The dismissal of Granit Xhaka in Switzerland’s 2-0 victory over Portugal left a bitter taste in the mouth of coach Vladimir Petkovic.
Switzerland are expected to provide the strongest competition to European champions Portugal in Group B of 2018 World Cup qualifying, and they got their campaign off to a great start at St Jakob-Park on Tuesday.
Breel Embolo and Admir Mehmedi’s first-half goals proved the difference, but a pair of yellow cards in second-half stoppage time resulted in Xhaka leaving the field prematurely.
The Arsenal midfielder will consequently be banned for the qualifier against Hungary in October, and referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz’s decision frustrated the Switzerland boss.
“For me, they were two half-yellow cards, which annoys me,” said Petkovic.
“He will be missed, but we will try to compensate with a team performance against Hungary. Granit has shown a powerful performance and leadership.”
Petkovic was eager not to get carried away with the result, but believes it shows Switzerland are heading in the right direction.
He continued: “We have not taken a step back, but two steps forward. We were mentally ready instantly and have produced a powerful display.
“We should celebrate now, but tomorrow we will have our feet on the ground again. There are still nine games to go.
“With this result we will make the news in Europe – we have beaten the European champions, and every positive result brings euphoria in this country.
“The game was the first evidence that we can not only compete, but win.”