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Hungary 1-3 Switzerland: Embolo returns with a bang as Yakin’s men start with a win

Granit Xhaka

Switzerland fended off a Hungary fightback to join Germany at the top of Group A at Euro 2024 on Saturday.

Murat Yakin’s men appeared to be cruising to a routine win after going in at half-time 2-0 up thanks to efforts from Kwadwo Duah and Michel Aebischer.

Hungary belatedly gave their boisterous supporters something to cheer when Barnabas Varga pulled one back midway through the second half.

But Switzerland made sure of the win deep into injury-time when substitute Breel Embolo lobbed Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi to make it 3-1.

Xhaka stars in one-sided first half

Hungary came in as many people’s dark horses, having lost just two of their previous 20 games, but they were blown away in a first half dominated by the Swiss.

With Grant Xhaka pulling the strings in midfield and Aebischer and Dan Ndoye offering pace and guile from wide positions, Switzerland started strongly and it was no surprise then they took the lead after 12 minutes.

Aebischer drifted in off the left to find a pocket of space which he utilised to thread a ball through to Duah and he made no mistake by clipping past the advancing Gulacsi. The assistant referee’s flag went up but VAR overruled and the goal stood.

Gulacsi came to Milos Kerkez’s rescue seven minutes later after a sloppy pass from the Bournemouth left-back gave Ruben Vargas a clear run on goal. Gulacsi stood tall and Vargas’ shot clipped his shoulder and went wide.

Hungary had offered nothing up to the point they almost equalised after 39 minutes, Willi Orban’s header from a Dominik Szoboszlai free-kick aimed straight at Yann Sommer.

Aebischer made it 2-0 thanks in part to some woeful Hungary defending. Having initially failed to clear despite several opportunities, they then stood off the Bologna man on the edge of the box and he took full advantage with a wonderful curled effort into the bottom right-hand corner.

Hungary finally fire

Hungary boss Marco Rossi clearly had words with his side at the break, although their effectiveness was not instant.

Gulacsi saved well from Duah and Vargas before Hungary finally got a foothold in the game.

They ought to have halved the deficit after 63 minutes but Vargas powered a header wide from six yards after a great cross from Roland Sallai.

He did much better two minutes later from a similar move. This time it was Szoboszlai’s turn to send the cross in and Vargas outmuscled his marker before planting a header past Sommer at the far post.

Suddenly it was a different game as Hungary poured forward, Sallai replicating Xhaka’s first-half influence in the centre of the field.

But, for all their territorial dominance, Sommer was rarely called into action.

Indeed, Switzerland ought to have increased their advantage, Ndoye seeing a shot deflected inches over, Szoboszlai almost glancing a right-wing corner into his own net and substitute Fabian Rieder rounding Gulacsi but failing to finish.

Embolo missed virtually the entirety of last season with a cruciate injury and his goalscoring appearance as a late substitute crowned a wonderful day for Yakin, the striker seizing on a poor header from Orban to finish coolly.

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.