By Patrick Johnston
Haris Seferovic struck a stoppage time winner as Switzerland fought back from a goal down to claim a thrilling last-gasp 2-1 win over Ecuador in a scrappy but entertaining World Cup Group E opener on Sunday.
The substitute was left unmarked at the near post as he converted a 93rd minute cross from the left following a rapid counter-attack to send the Swiss fans into raptures.
The Swiss had bossed possession for long periods at the Brasilia national stadium, where many thousands of fans missed the kick-off as the negotiated the lengthy security queues, but fell behind in the 22nd minute after pre-match concerns about their soft centre proved true.
Ecuador striker Enner Valencia easily stepped away from Johan Djourou to meet Walter Ayovi’s free kick from the right with Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio stuck on his line as the ball fizzed into his six yard box.
The Swiss struggled to break down the South Americans and were restricted to long shots for the remainder of the half with Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld opting to introduce Admir Mehmedi at the break to help find a way through.
The forward needed just three minutes to make an impact as he beat Carlos Gruezo to head home a corner to level the scores.
The goal opened up the scrappy contest as the play flowed end to end but both teams lacked calmness and quality in the final third.
The Swiss, who beat Spain in their opening match in South Africa four years ago but failed to reach the knockout stages, thought they had taken the lead when Josip Drmic poked home from close range with 20 minutes left but the strike was wrongly ruled out for offside.
But it mattered little as Seferovic’s late effort claimed all three points.
France and Honduras meet later on Sunday in the other Group E clash.