Switzerland’s Nations League campaign got off to a flying start as they smashed Iceland in St Gallen.
IT WAS ONLY natural during the summer that still-hurting Irish football fans found themselves pondering how a nation of 334,000 people had topped a qualification group containing eventual World Cup finalists Croatia on their road to Russia, but Iceland were dealt a cold dose of reality in their Nations League opener this evening.
Granted, they’re a division above Martin O’Neill’s men in the new Uefa format, but one might have been forgiven for thinking Iceland, and not Denmark, had fielded a team of futsal stars and lower-tier amateurs as they were swept aside 6-0 by Switzerland in St Gallen — though in truth they closer resembled Subbuteo figures on occasion.
Liverpool winger Xherdan Shaqiri scored his side’s third goal and was involved in three others in the second half as Vladimir Petkovic’s side ran riot, inflicting upon the visitors a worst defeat in 17 years.
Steven Zuber blasted the hosts ahead 13 minutes in before Denis Zakaria scored his first international goal after Shaqiri’s free-kick deflected off Fabian Schar.
Shaqiri was credited with the third 53 minutes in when his free-kick glanced off the head of Birkir Bjarnason, who spent two years playing for Basel in Switzerland’s top flight.
Haris Seferovic scored a fine fourth, drilling home from the edge of the box after Schar backheeled Shaqiri’s pass into his path, and the Benfica forward squared for debutant Albian Ajeti to make it 5-0 four minutes later.
Admir Mehmedi compounded a miserable outing for Euro 2016 quarter-finalists Iceland, his simple finish coming at the end of a swift counter-attack involving Shaqiri and Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Zakaria.
The last time Iceland conceded five goals or more was in their 5-2 loss to France at the Euros two years ago. They had not lost 6-0 since a World Cup qualifier against Denmark in 2001.
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