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Switzerland 1-2 Belgium: Lukaku and De Bruyne inspire Red Devils comeback

Kevin De Bruyne struck a late winner as Belgium came from a goal down to beat 10-man Switzerland 2-1 in Geneva on Saturday.

A strong Belgium side fell behind early doors to Blerim Dzemaili’s first-half opener but were soon level when Romelu Lukaku restored parity just three minutes later.

Chances were scarce after the interval but Haris Seferovic’s dismissal handed Belgium the chance to press on for a winner, which they grabbed with both hands as De Bruyne fired home after being teed up by Jordan Lukaku.

Marc Wilmots’ side are now unbeaten in six after their spirited fightback, whereas Switzerland have lost three in a row with Euro 2016 just around the corner.

Xherdan Shaqiri, starting wide on the right but given licence to roam, was at the heart of the home side’s encouraging display early on and came within inches of setting up Eren Derdiyok for a tap-in at the far post after another clever run.

Yann Sommer produced two strong saves to deny Romelu Lukaku and De Bruyne as Belgium began to assume some control, but Switzerland snatched the lead with 31 minutes played.

Michael Lang combined superbly with Shaqiri down the right and Toby Alderweireld could only turn his low cross into the path of Dzemaili, who drilled a clinical finish into the bottom-right corner.

Switzerland’s lead lasted barely three minutes, though, as Dries Mertens bent in a low cross from the right and, after Philippe Senderos failed to intercept, Romelu Lukaku had an easy task to finish high past Sommer from six yards.

Shaqiri had Thibaut Courtois at full stretch with a low drive after a spectacular run through the heart of the Belgium midfield just before the break, but the attacking ebb and flow of the first half began to falter in the second as tempers flared following a succession of niggling fouls.

Dzemaili came within inches of restoring Switzerland’s lead with a fierce shot from 25 yards that flew narrowly over Courtois’ crossbar, before he made way to allow Young Boys youngster Denis Zakaria – a player touted as a long-term replacement for former skipper Gokhan Inler – to make his debut.

But Switzerland were soon forced onto the back foot when fellow substitute Seferovic earned a straight red card with 10 minutes to play in the wake of a clash with Jan Vertonghen, and Belgium capitalised on the man advantage to find a winner with seven minutes to play.

Manchester City’s De Bruyne found space on the edge of the area and struck a dipping shot which deceived Sommer and nestled into the right-hand corner.

Sommer redeemed his error somewhat with a spectacular one-handed save to deny Divock Origi’s overhead kick from point-blank range, but Belgium saw out injury time with minimal fuss to claim the victory.

Wilmots’ charges will now prepare for a meeting with Finland next Wednesday, while Vladimir Petkovic’s Switzerland host Moldova two days later.

Sat 28 May, 2016
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