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World Cup: Spain coach says, 'We have to find a way to win'

June 16, 2010 |  9:59 am

Woo_300 Switzerland pulled off a surprising victory at the World Cup on Wednesday, beating European champion Spain, 1-0, in their opening group match at Durban, South Africa.

Gelson Fernandes bundled the ball into the net in the 52nd minute in one of Switzerland's few attacks, ending Spain's 12-match winning streak and handing the Spanish team its second loss in 50 games.

"Today wasn't our day," Spain Coach Vicente del Bosque said. "We have two games ahead of us. We have to find a way to win them."

Spain, one of the pre-tournament favorites, dominated possession throughout the match but could find no way through Switzerland's determined defense.

"We had plenty of chances, but they defended very well," Spain defender Gerard Pique said. "I don't think we adapted adequately to their game."

Eren Derdiyok set up Switzerland's goal by surging through the center of Spain's defense and getting around goalkeeper Iker Casillas.  Pique's tackle stopped Derdiyok, but Fernandes pounced on the loose ball and sent it into the net.

At the final whistle, Fernandes dropped to his knees and raised both arms. The entire team then went to the small section of Swiss fans at Moses Mabhida Stadium and saluted them as they cheered and rang cow bells.

History was not on Spain's side: Only two of the last eight reigning European champions had won their opening match at the World Cup -- France in 1986 and Germany in 1998. And Spain has not advanced past the World Cup quarterfinals since its best finish of fourth in 1950.

Derdiyok nearly doubled the Swiss lead in the 75th minute when he shrugged off Carlos Puyol's tackle and poked the ball past Casillas, but the shot hit the post.

Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso came closest to tying the score when his powerful drive in the 70th minute hit the crossbar.

"It was a match we tried to play without abandoning our style," Del Bosque said. "We tried to play heroically and they fell back and tried to stop us."

Spain's misery was compounded when Andres Iniesta left the game in the 77th minute after a hard tackle by Stephan Lichtsteiner. Del Bosque said the midfielder was not seriously hurt.

Switzerland was knocked out of the last World Cup on penalty kicks by Ukraine in the round of 16 without conceding a goal in the tournament. The Swiss have gone 490 minutes without giving up a goal in World Cup play.

Switzerland earned its first victory in 18 attempts against Spain despite playing without injured captain Alex Frei and midfielder Valon Behrami.

Spain was lifted by Iniesta's return from an injury, but the Barcelona midfielder could not provide the spark to ignite his country's attack.

Del Bosque brought on Liverpool striker Fernando Torres in the 62nd minute, but he too could find no way through the Swiss wall of defenders.

David Villa was Spain's most dangerous forward, but the top scorer from the European Championship in 2008 repeatedly saw his efforts blocked or go wide.

Villa got past Lichtsteiner in the 10th minute, but goalkeeper Diego Benaglio dived at his feet to snuff out the chance. Then his free kick deflected wide off the wall after Stephane Grichting pulled down Iniesta just outside the penalty area.

In an indication of Spain's sputtering forward play, it was center back Pique who came closest to breaking the tie when Iniesta's through ball in the 24th minute set him free and he sent a low shot that Benaglio stopped.

Villa showed the frustration creeping into Spain's game when he flung both arms into the air after Iniesta sent a shot high over the bar shortly before halftime.

A minute later, it was Villa who was guilty of failing to finish a nice move when he made room for himself on the left by cutting inside the sliding tackle of substitute Steve von Bergen, but he saw his attempted lob drift well wide of the goal.

The pattern was repeated after the break as Spain laid siege to the Switzerland goal but could not find the net.

"This is just the first match, everyone agrees that we have to fight to get out the group," Del Bosque said.
"No one in the team has ever talked about getting to the final or winning. We hit an obstacle and we'll get over it."

Chile beat Honduras, 1-0, in the other Group H match.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Gelson Fernandes celebrates. Credit: Ali Haider / European Press Agency.