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Swiss miss the chance to pull off an Italian job

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Italy and Switzerland played out a 1-1 draw in FIFA World Cup Qualification, extending the Swiss’ torrid run on Italian soil to one win in 26 and ensuring the winner of Group C will be decided on the final matchday.

Few would have predicted Italy and Switzerland to be level on points with two games remaining in WCQ Group C, but at the start of play, they were. Italy’s 37-match unbeaten run ground to a halt against Spain in the last international break and this game got off to a similarly bad start. Noah Okafor took matters into his own hands and marauded forward down the left and cut the ball back to Silvan Widmer who thundered an unstoppable effort beyond the dive of Gianluigi Donnarumma. The Italian response was reasonably muted, with Nicolò Barella’s effort as close as the European champions came to clawing themselves back on level terms, but Yann Sommer was on hand to deny him.

An equaliser wasn’t too far away though and came from an unlikely source, as Lorenzo Insigne’s teasing free-kick was headed home by Giovanni Di Lorenzo, taking a punch to the face from Sommer for his troubles. The opening stages of the second half went the way of the Swiss, but Denis Zakaria wasted a great opportunity to double their lead when he blazed over from the edge of the area, leaving Switzerland vulnerable to rueing their missed chances. Italy weren’t their usual selves, but they were creating half-chances to snatch a lead, the best of which fell to Emerson Palmieri, but as he cut in from the left, he rifled an effort harmlessly over the bar.

Italian pressure was building, and when Insigne struck goalwards it seemed for all the world the net would ripple, but Sommer was on hand again to deny him. Neither side could find a breakthrough, although Jorginho spurned a glorious chance to win it in stoppage time, but a rare Jorginho miss from the spot ensured the scores remained level and everything rolls onto the final matchday. Italy face a potential banana skin trip to Northern Ireland, while Switzerland play hosts to Bulgaria – both winnable games on paper and it will potentially come down to goal difference to separate these sides – with Italy currently edging that department.

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