PARIS (AP) — Switzerland closed in on a spot in the next round of the European Championship with a 1-1 draw against Romania on Wednesday.
Admir Mehmedi scored a 57th-minute equalizer with a powerful left-foot shot to ensure the Swiss have four points ahead of their final Group A match against France.
Romania took the lead against the run of play in the 18th minute when Bogdan Stancu scored with his second penalty in two games. But although Romania hit the post through Cristian Sapunaru’s first-half shot, Switzerland had more and better scoring chances.
Romania has only one point from two matches, but should be favored to beat Albania in its last match. France was playing Albania in Marseille later Wednesday.
The new 24-team format means the third-place teams in the six groups have a good chance to reach the round of 16.
Switzerland has never advanced from its group at a European tournament, and missed a good opportunity to hit coach Vladimir Petkovic’s target of two straight wins to clinch advancement with a game to spare.
Pressing for victory, Switzerland lacked some team-first focus. Xherdan Shaqiri and Blerim Dzemaili opted for volleyed shots that flew high and wide when teen substitute Breel Embolo was better placed.
On the other end, Stancu has now totally wrong-footed two of Europe’s best goalkeepers from the penalty spot at Euro 2016. France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was beaten to his left in Romania’s 2-1 loss last Friday, and Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer guessed left as the ball went to his right.
In contrast, Switzerland forward Haris Seferovic once more wasted a chance at Euro 2016 after missing several chances to finish off Albania in a nervy 1-0 win last Saturday.
The big Swiss failed with two early shots after teammates picked out his clever runs at the heart of Romania’s defense. The clamor back home to start with Embolo, who replaced Seferovic in the 63rd, can only grow.
Switzerland defender Fabian Shaer almost followed up his goal against Albania with a dipping long-range strike in the 20th minute. The ball was sneaking under the crossbar until Romania goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu tipped it over.
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