Cameroon coach Rigobert Song made no secret of his pride in Breel Embolo despite the Switzerland forward scoring the winning goal against his birth nation at the World Cup on Thursday.

Embolo's second-half strike from Xherdan Shaqiri's cross proved decisive as Switzerland won 1-0 at Al Janoub Stadium, giving Switzerland a victorious start to their Group G campaign.

The goal was even more notable due to the fact Embolo was born in Cameroon but represents Switzerland after spending much of his childhood there.

Despite not choosing to play for the nation of his birth, Embolo retains links to the country and Song revealed the pair share a strong personal relationship.

As such, Song felt a degree of pride in seeing Embolo prevail on Thursday.

Asked if he had preferred Embolo to have played for Cameroon, Song told reporters: "Yes, but that's the nature of the game.

"We are all proud of our country, you saw he didn't celebrate his goal. But again this [players representing other countries] is part and parcel of football.

"I'm happy for him and proud of him. Because he's playing for the Switzerland team, yes I'd have liked him on my side, but that's not the way it went. That's just the way of life.

"For us the most important thing is how we played, rather than who scored against us."

Song and Embolo shared a warm embrace at full-time, with the former explaining it was important to greet the Monaco player as a show of respect.

"We know each other, he's my little brother, I'm like the big brother, we've often spoken on the phone as well," Song said.

"I wanted to congratulate him, it's fair play. Because we are from the same family [country] but on different teams, it doesn't mean we are not going to be on good terms.

"He had a good game, I wanted to tell him. I'm not going to be a sore loser, we're still brothers at the end of the day."

Switzerland boss Murat Yakin was less forthcoming than Song in general as he addressed the media afterwards, but he did express a hint of pleasure in the narrative behind Embolo's goal.

"We know his story, his past in Cameroon," he added. "Well, you can be friendly up to kick-off and then they are your opponents.

"[Embolo's story] is football, it's writing history, these stories. Of course, he wants to score for his team and he fulfilled his task, so we are very happy. He had good moments through the match. He fulfilled his task well."

Switzerland face Brazil next on Monday, while Cameroon will hope to bounce back against Serbia the same day – another defeat will see them equal Mexico's all-time record for the most successive World Cup losses (nine).

Breel Embolo scored the winner against his birth nation as Switzerland beat Cameroon 1-0 at Al Janoub Stadium in their World Cup Group G opener on Thursday.

The Yaounde-born attacker refused to celebrate his second-half tap-in but his goal sparked jubilant scenes for the Swiss at full-time as Murat Yakin's side inflicted Cameroon's eighth successive World Cup defeat, one shy of the record.

The Indomitable Lions had the better of the first half and kept Yann Sommer relatively busy in the Switzerland net, though there were a couple of warning signs for Cameroon just before the break.

Embolo had been involved in one of those incidents and was fittingly the man to break the deadlock in the 48th minute, with Switzerland ultimately good value for the win after an effective second-half display.

Cameroon began with the greater purpose and should have scored 10 minutes in as Bryan Mbeumo blasted at Sommer and Karl Toko Ekambi inexplicably blasted over on the rebound.

Undeterred, Cameroon continued to look more threatening, with Martin Hongla testing Sommer from a tight angle 20 minutes later, and a crucial Silvan Widmer clearance denied Toko Ekambi a tap-in.

Switzerland finished the half stronger, however, and only a last-ditch Jean-Charles Castelletto tackle prevented Embolo a certain goal before Manuel Akanji nodded just wide in stoppage time.

But there was no denying Embolo just after the break as the Monaco forward swept home from Xherdan Shaqiri's low right-wing cross.

Andre Onana kept Cameroon in the contest just past the hour with a fine stop to thwart Ruben Vargas, but Rigobert Song's men were unable to capitalise at the other end.


What does it mean? Vital win for Switzerland as things only get tougher from here

With Brazil and Serbia to come, it was essential Switzerland came through this with a positive result – and that they did.

It certainly was not a vintage performance from a side Yakin called "one of the best Swiss national teams that have ever existed", but in the second half they often played with real fluency.

Switzerland are one of only three European teams to reach the knockout stages in each of the past four major international tournaments, and this was a big step to continuing that streak in Qatar.

Shaqiri dependable as ever

He may not carry quite the same influence over Switzerland's general play as he once did, but Shaqiri just always seems to deliver for his national team. His cross, cleverly pulled back slightly, gave Embolo an easy finish for the winner, giving the experienced winger his 12th goal involvement for the Swiss over the last four major tournaments, exactly 50 per cent of their total.

Vargas frustrates

He was full of running and endeavour, but this was largely a frustrating display from the left winger. Although his two chances created was a high for Switzerland, he wasted two glorious opportunities: one saw him slice a cross over the goal with Granit Xhaka awaiting a tap-in, and the second involved him failing to beat Onana from close range.

What's next?

Switzerland face the ultimate test when they tussle with Brazil on Monday. Cameroon will play Serbia the same day.

Switzerland will be looking to extend an impressive unbeaten streak across opening World Cup encounters when they face off with Cameroon at Al Janoub Stadium in Group G on Thursday.

The Swiss arrive at Qatar 2022 having not been defeated in their first match of the tournament since a 5-0 loss against Germany in 1966.

What is more, they will be hoping to reach the knockout stages for the third successive time, after last-16 finishes at Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018.

They will  be relying on experienced heads as they meet African opposition for the second time at the World Cup too, having last faced Togo at Germany 2006.

Vice-captain Xherdan Shaqiri may have bowed out at European club level to play in MLS, but he has been directly involved in 48 per cent of their 23 goals in their last four major tournaments, with eight goals and three assists.

In his fourth World Cup, the attacking midfielder says his nation are unfancied in a group alongside Brazil and Serbia, but added: "There are always underdogs who maybe surprise.

"So we will see which team this is going to be. I hope Switzerland is one of them."

Cameroon arrive at their eighth World Cup, the most among African nations, while they have only been outscored by Nigeria among teams from their continent at the competition.

But they have lost each of their previous seven World Cup matches, a record only beaten by Mexico's nine consecutive defeats between 1930 and 1958.

One man hoping to make a difference for Rigobert Song's side will be Bryan Mbeumo, with the former France youth international only switching his allegiance in August.

"I've always wanted to play a World Cup since I was young," he stated. "Just to walk around the pitch with a big crowd and other stuff would be amazing. It's going to be crazy inside me."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Switzerland – Breel Embolo

The Cameroon-born forward was his side's top scorer during qualifying, with three goals to his name. He scored twice during their Nations League matches in September too and the Monaco attacker will hope he can carry that form over to the World Cup

Cameroon – Vincent Aboubakar

If there is a man with unfinished business among their ranks, it will be the Al-Nassr man, fresh from eight goals at the 2021 African Cup of Nations. The forward has failed to register a single shot on target during four previous World Cup matches, and will hope to break his duck.

PREDICTION

With a cast-iron record in both recent tournament results and opening World Cup matches, Switzerland will be fancied to seal victory in this first game against Cameroon.

According to Stats Perform's AI model, Yakin's side have a 56.5 per cent chance of winning the game, compared to Cameroon's 18 per cent. That said, both teams could well prove tougher to split, with a 25.5 per cent chance of a draw instead.

Cameroon forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is sad for Senegal, Africa and Sadio Mane after his Bayern Munich team-mate was ruled out of the World Cup.

African player of the year Mane was initially expected to feature in Qatar and was named in Senegal's 26-man squad, despite sustaining a leg injury in Bayern's 6-1 win over Werder Bremen on November 8.

But the former Liverpool forward saw his World Cup dreams shattered last Thursday as Senegal confirmed surgery would be required for the 30-year-old's fibula issue, thus ruling him out of the tournament.

Choupo-Moting and Cameroon face Switzerland in Thursday's Group G opener but much of the striker's focus appeared to be with team-mate Mane.

"I'm very sad for him, and for both Senegal and for Africa. He's a great player and a great person as well," Choupo-Moting said on Tuesday.

"I'm very happy that he joined us at Bayern. I'm very, very upset and sad for him that this injury came just before the World Cup.

"Injuries are always part of the game, unfortunately, I don't know why it came at the wrong moment but we are all with him. 

"He's a positive guy who will keep his positive energy. I hope he will come back stronger."

Cameroon have lost their last seven games at the World Cup (between 2002 and 2014), with only Mexico losing more consecutive outings at FIFA's top tournament, nine from 1930 to 1958.

But Rigobert Song's side impressed with 14 goals at the Africa Cup of Nations, five more than any other team, and the most at the competition since Egypt in 2010 (15).

Choupo-Moting has also managed a talismanic nine goals in 14 games for Bayern and he expects his hard work to pay dividends for Cameroon in Qatar.

"There's no secret, it's work; you have to work and believe in yourself," he added. "I know my qualities. I know I have a lot of qualities and with my team-mates, each one can make a difference. 

"There is always this pressure, every game is important and Cameroon expects us to win every game. We concentrate game after game. First, it's Switzerland and then we'll see."

England and six other nations have confirmed their players will not wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup.

The move comes after FIFA threatened to book captains if they broke regulations and made their own statements on social issues, rather than following guidelines from the game’s governing body.

OneLove, which promotes "inclusion and sends a message against discrimination of any kind", has grown in significance in the build-up to the tournament in Qatar, a country in which homosexuality is illegal.

But, following extensive discussions between FIFA and an alliance of football associations – England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands – the armband will now not be worn.

A joint statement read: "FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.

"As national federations, we can't put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.

"We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.

"We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response.

"Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways."

England open their World Cup campaign against Iran later on Monday.

In a separate statement, the Dutch FA (KNVB) – the OneLove campaign originated in the Netherlands - expressed its anger and disappointment at FIFA's stance.

It read: "The KNVB and the players of the Dutch national team would like to convey a positive message with OneLove and against all forms of discrimination.

"We wanted to do that at the World Cup together with England, Wales, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark.

"The UEFA working group, of which the KNVB is part, asked FIFA on September 19 to embrace the OneLove captain's armband. Today, hours before the first match, FIFA has (officially) made it clear to 

us that the captain will receive a yellow card if he wears the OneLove captain's armband.

"We deeply regret that is has not been possible to reach a reasonable solution together.

"We stand with the OneLove message and continue to carry it out, but our first priority at the World Cup is to win matches. You don't want the captain to start the match by getting a yellow card. That is why we had to decide with pain in our hearts - as a UEFA working group, the KNVB and as a team – to abandon our plan.

"As previously announced, the KNVB would have paid a possible fine for wearing the OneLove captain's armband but that FIFA would punish us for this on the field was not expected.

"This goes against the spirit of our sport which connects millions of people. In the coming period, together with the other countries involved, we will take a critical look at our relationship with FIFA."

England and six other nations have confirmed their players will not wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup.

The move comes after FIFA threatened to book captains if they broke regulations and made their own statements on social issues, rather than following guidelines from the game’s governing body.

OneLove, which promotes "inclusion and sends a message against discrimination of any kind", has grown in significance in the build-up to the tournament in Qatar, a country in which homosexuality is illegal.

But, following extensive discussions between FIFA and an alliance of football associations – England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands – the armband will now not be worn.

A joint statement read: "FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.

"As national federations, we can't put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.

"We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.

"We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response.

"Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways."

England open their World Cup campaign against Iran later on Monday.

Yann Sommer's return from injury provided a boost for Switzerland as they announced their 26-man squad for the FIFA World Cup.

The Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper, who suffered an ankle injury in a DFB-Pokal defeat to Darmstadt three weeks ago, is one of four goalkeepers named in Murat Yakin’s squad, with concerns over the fitness of Sommer and Jonas Omlin.

Switzerland have named an experienced squad and will be hoping to build on their impressive performance at Euro 2020, which saw them defeat then-reigning champions France before losing on penalties to Spain in the quarter-finals.

Manchester City's Manuel Akanji and Newcastle United stalwart Fabian Schar make up an experienced centre-back combination, with Fulham’s right-back Kevin Mbabu a surprise absentee in defence.

Granit Xhaka will be looking to carry his fine early-season form with Arsenal into Qatar 2022, with the experienced midfielder selected alongside Chelsea's on-loan Denis Zakaria and new Nottingham Forest-signing Remo Freuler in the middle of the park.
 
Former Liverpool winger Xherdan Shaqiri, who now plays for Chicago Fire, will feature in his fourth FIFA World Cup and will be looking to add to his 108 caps for the national side. 

Galatasaray forward Haris Seferovic, who has 25 goals for Switzerland, provides experience to a forward line that also boasts the talents of Breel Embolo and Salzburg youngster Noah Okafor.

In a statement, coach Yakin said: "We were spoilt for choice in some positions.

"Many players have delivered convincing performances in recent weeks and months. But in the end, I had to limit myself to 26 names. I'm convinced that these 26 players can always help us to achieve our goals."

Switzerland begin their difficult Group G campaign on November 24 against Cameroon before facing familiar opposition in Brazil and Serbia, who were both part of the Swiss' 2018 World Cup group.

Switzerland Squad: Gregor Kobel (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Kohn (Salzburg), Jonas Omlin (Montpellier), Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach); Manuel Akanji (Manchester City), Eray Comert (Valencia), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Monchengladbach), Edimilson Fernandes (Mainz), Ricardo Rodriguez (Torino), Fabian Schar (Newcastle), Silvan Widmer (Mainz); Michel Aebischer (Bologna), Christian Fassnacht (Young Boys), Fabian Frei (Basel), Remo Freuler (Nottingham Forest), Ardon Jashari (Lucerne), Fabian Rieder (Young Boys), Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire), Djibril Sow (Eintracht Frankfurt), Renato Steffen (Lugano), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Denis Zakaria (Chelsea); Breel Embolo (Monaco), Noah Okafor (Salzburg), Haris Seferovic (Benfica, loan to Galatasaray), Ruben Vargas (Augsburg).

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka is not concerned by the number of minutes he has played this season and the risk of injury ahead of the World Cup.

The Switzerland international has started all but one of the Gunners' matches across all competitions this season, combining with Thomas Partey or Albert Sambi Lokonga in midfield.

Xhaka's influence has played a huge part in Arsenal's fine start to the season, including scoring the only goal of the game in Thursday's victory over PSV in the Europa League – sealing qualification for the knockout stages.

A packed schedule ahead of the World Cup, where Switzerland face Brazil, Serbia and Cameroon, will test the fitness limits of players this season, but that does not come into Xhaka's thought process.

"I'm not worried. The staff, the coach, they know how I am physically, how I look after myself. It's not the first time I'm doing this many games in a row, I've done this for the last 13 years," he said.

"I'm feeling very good. Every time you win, it makes it a little easier, but I'm not worried about my fitness, the World Cup or the future.

"I'm 30 years old, I know my body better than before. When you're young, you think differently, whereas now I know my body, what I need. Of course, you have the people around you helping you with the food, with the recovery, at the moment, everything is working well."

Asked if the risk of injury plays on his mind ahead of games, he added: "I don't think like this, I will never think like this when I go onto the pitch.

"This is football, it can happen in one second. You have to put your faith when there is a 50-50 ball. My personality, as people know, I will never go back on that."

With seven games to play before the World Cup, five of which are in the Premier League, Xhaka is aiming for the Arsenal squad to capitalise on their position four points clear at the summit and remain top of the pile for the mid-season halt.

"It has to be the aim. We're there now, we need to be there as long as possible," he said.

"If we have the chance to stay where we are at the moment, then the World Cup comes, maybe it's good for everyone, for us as well, to prepare something else for January."

Luis Enrique believes Spain's performance in the first half of Saturday's defeat to Switzerland was their worst 45 minutes of his reign.

Spain slumped to a disappointing 2-1 loss in Zaragoza that leaves them trailing Portugal by two points in Nations League Group A2 heading into the last game.

That final group match is on Tuesday as Spain prepare to face the leaders in Braga, with Fernando Santos' side 4-0 winners over the Czech Republic on Saturday.

La Roja did not muster a single shot on target until Jordi Alba's 55th-minute equaliser at La Romareda, and Luis Enrique could not hide his disappointment at the showing.

"Losing is always something that hurts. It has been a pity, but we must value Switzerland, who from the beginning caused us many difficulties," the coach said.

"In the first half, it was the worst of my time as coach. [Then] we have badly defended the corner of their second goal.

"In the second half we improved. We have tried until the end. The key game is Portugal. We will go to Braga to win."

The manner of Saturday's loss clearly perturbed Luis Enrique, understandable given the World Cup starts in less than two months.

Yet, he is refusing to blow it out of proportion, adamant he does not need to re-evaluate his faith in the squad just because of one result.

Asked if the game generated doubts in relation to Qatar 2022, Luis Enrique replied: "No doubts.

"Obviously it's better to go to Qatar on a winning streak, but I have full confidence in the team. I have seen many players in the first half who have been more imprecise than ever, but the opponents are good, they know how they play.

"But everything doesn't always go well, when you don't have a good day, this happens.

"A victory against Portugal would be the perfect way to reach the World Cup. We have drawn three times with them and now we will go there to win."

Portugal only need a draw on Tuesday to seal their place in the Nations League Finals for the second time.

Spain will have to win in Portugal if they are to reach the Nations League Finals after suffering a shock 2-1 home defeat to Switzerland in Group A2 on Saturday.

As Portugal cruised to a comfortable 4-0 win over Czech Republic, Luis Enrique's side failed to make the most of their superiority in Zaragoza and slumped to a first defeat since the 2021 Nations League final loss to France.

Spain had great difficulty converting possession into a goal threat, at no point in the first half looking likely to cancel out Manuel Akanji's opener.

Marco Asensio did inspire Jordi Alba's equaliser early in the second half, but an Eric Garcia own goal almost instantly had them playing catch up again and a second equaliser never materialised.

Despite their dominance of the ball, Spain struggled to carve out chances and were behind in the 21st minute as Akanji met Ruben Vargas' corner with a header that found the top-right corner.

The only other first-half shot on target for either team arrived just before the break, Unai Simon forced to keep Xherdan Shaqiri's effort out at his near post after the winger's incisive run.

It took 55 minutes for Spain to muster an accurate attempt and it brought the equaliser, with Alba hammering home after Asensio released him at the end of a brilliant solo run.

But the visitors quickly restored their lead – Garcia ultimately knocking into his own net following Akanji's flick-on from another Vargas corner.

La Roja played most of the final 30 minutes camped in Switzerland's half, but their only clear opportunity saw Yann Sommer get down to thwart Carlos Soler and seal victory in stoppage time.

Luis Enrique is "optimistic about what lies ahead" as Spain prepare to try and win Group A2 in the Nations League.

La Roja host Switzerland on Saturday knowing a win will secure top spot for them if Portugal lose to the Czech Republic.

Should they not seal it this weekend, Spain will have a second chance to do so when they travel to face Portugal in their final Nations League group game on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Luis Enrique was boosted by what he had seen in training from his squad, including first-time call-ups Borja Iglesias and Nico Williams.

"It has been the best week of training for the players since I became a coach," he said. "Even Borja and Nico, making their debuts.

"I am optimistic about what lies ahead. A brutal week, even those who play little have the level to compete."

The former Barcelona boss was refusing to look ahead to the clash with Portugal before facing the Swiss.

"Even losing [to Switzerland], if we beat Portugal, We'll be through," he said. "But that doesn't mean we'll speculate. The next one is the most important game.

"The good thing about the Nations League is that all the teams have something at stake. If Switzerland don't get more points, they will [be relegated to League B]. 

"Good players can play together like [Alvaro] Morata and Borja. We will not change the way any player plays and everyone has assimilated to our way of working."

Luis Enrique was also asked about the situation with the Spain women's team, with 15 players having said they do not want to play under current head coach Jorge Vilda.

Ballon d'Or winner and Barcelona superstar Alexia Putellas effectively joined the rebellion on Friday, posting a statement from the disenchanted group.

"It is a totally abnormal situation, and difficult to manage," Luis Enrique said on the matter. "But I have not the slightest doubt that the [Spanish Football] Federation will manage it in the best possible way. There are many factors."

2012 Olympic Javelin champion Keshorn Walcott returned to the winner’s circle at the Luzern World Athletics Continental Tour-Silver Meet in Switzerland on Tuesday.

Walcott produced a best throw of 84.82m in the fifth round to take the win ahead of Latvian Patriks Gailums (83.30m) and Curtis Thompson of the USA (82.87m).

Bahamian Anthonique Strachan won the Women’s 200m in 22.66 ahead of Aminatou Seyni of Niger (22.71) and Jenna Prandini of the USA (22.82).

On the Men’s side, recently crowned NACAC champion Andrew Hudson of Jamaica was second in 20.47 behind the USA’s Kyree King (20.40). Charlie Dobson of Great Britain was third in 20.52.

Commonwealth Games champion Janieve Russell ran 55.25 for second in the Women’s 400m hurdles behind American Dalilah Muhammad (54.57). Finland’s Viivi Lehikoinen was third in 55.41.

 

Commonwealth champion Rasheed Broadbell continued his stellar form in 2022 with a win at the Luzern World Athletics Continental Tour-Silver meet in Switzerland on Tuesday.

Broadbell ran 13.36 to win the 110m hurdles ahead of Americans Eric Edwards (13.53) and Jamal Britt (13.54). Olympic champion Hansle Parchment was fourth in 13.54.

The 22-year-old Broadbell has now won his last five races, including a personal best 12.99 to win at the Lausanne Diamond League last Friday.

In the B-final, Jamaica’s National U-20 record holder Damion Thomas was third in 13.71 behind Japan’s Izumiya Shunsuke (13.61) and American Robert Dunning (13.55).

In the Women’s 100m hurdles, Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico ran 12.86 for second behind the USA’s Tia Jones (12.78). Jones’ teammate Tonea Marshall was third in 13.04.

Fulham have confirmed the signing of Wolfsburg and Switzerland right-back Kevin Mbabu ahead of their return to the Premier League.

Reports suggest Fulham will pay £4.6million (€5.5m) plus add-ons for the 27-year-old, who made 24 Bundesliga appearances last season.

Marco Silva's newly promoted side have been active in the transfer market ahead of their season opener against Liverpool on August 6, acquiring Sporting CP's Joao Palhinha, Manchester United's Andreas Pereira and Shakhtar Donetsk winger Manor Solomon.

No German top-flight team bettered Wolfsburg's tally of 11 clean sheets last term (Bayern Munich also kept 11), although only six teams in the division conceded more than the 54 goals shipped by Die Wolfe.

After signing a three-year deal with the option of a further 12 months at Craven Cottage, Mbabu told Fulham's website: "I'm happy to be here as a Fulham Football Club player. It's a relief and now I can focus on my goals and the club's goals, and help the team to be successful.

"The first step is to stay in the Premier League, stay stable in the league, and then why not aim for the top 10?"

Mbabu has 22 caps for Switzerland and will hope to feature when they take on Cameroon, Brazil and Serbia in the World Cup group stages in Qatar later this year.

Fernando Santos questioned the referee's performance after Portugal suffered the first defeat of their Nations League campaign to Switzerland.

Haris Seferovic opened the scoring after just 55 seconds in Geneva, the fastest goal in Nations League history and earliest Switzerland have scored since 1988.

Referee Fran Jovic awarded a penalty to Switzerland 13 minutes later for a handball against Nuno Mendes, but the VAR overruled the decision.

A clear foul on Andre Silva by Nico Elvedi on the halfway line was the reason, with the Portugal striker requiring brief medical treatment for the ankle injury suffered in the tackle.

Portugal were incensed at the original decision, surrounding Jovic at half-time, and tempers continued to boil over in the second half, with Bruno Fernandes confronting the Swiss bench at one point.

While Santos refused to directly criticise the referee's performance, he admitted his frustrations with Switzerland seemingly slowing down the game en route to a 1-0 victory.

"I'm not going to criticise, but when a penalty is awarded that doesn't happen just like that, when there's a clear foul in midfield... Then just look at the number of fouls and time lost," he told reporters. 

"The fourth official knows very well what happened in the game."

Santos was satisfied with the second-half improvement, even if Swiss goalkeeper Jonas Omlin's heroics left Portugal a point behind group leaders Spain, who defeated Czech Republic on Sunday.

"At half-time, I was just saying that we have to have the ball and play differently and push them back," he added. 

"We started very well, in the first few minutes we wanted to put the ball very quickly on [Goncalo] Guedes. We knew opportunities would arise and many have arisen."

Portugal are not in action again until visiting Czech Republic in the Nations League on September 24.

Page 4 of 9
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.