Switzerland sink Hungary to make strong start at Euro 2024

Switzerland's forward Breel Embolo celebrates scoring his team's third goal. [AFP]

Switzerland made a flying start at Euro 2024 as Kwadwo Duah and Michel Aebischer scored their first international goals in a 3-1 win against Hungary on Saturday.

Murat Yakin's side raced into a two-goal lead by half-time in Cologne to kick off their Group A campaign in impressive fashion.

Duah opened the scoring in only his second international appearance after making his debut earlier this month.

The London-born 27-year-old, who plays for Bulgarian club Ludogorets Razgrad, holds dual citizenship with Ghana and Switzerland, who will be relieved he opted to represent them on the evidence of this dynamic display.

After providing the assist for Duah's opener, Bologna midfielder Aebischer netted his maiden Switzerland goal with an eye-catching long-range strike just before the interval.

Barnabas Varga's seventh goal in nine starts for Hungary set up a tense finale, but Breel Embolo struck in stoppage-time to seal the points.

"I liken football to chess and today we got our tactics right. We used this formation for a particular reason," Yakin said.

"We focused on making the most of our strengths and we made our opponents' lives very hard in the first half."

Following reports of a rift between Yakin and his players over tactics, Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka insisted on Friday that the air had been cleared in time for the Euros.

A recent dinner with Yakin featuring "plenty of wine" healed the wounds and the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder showed his support for the manager with an influential performance.

Switzerland beat France on penalties in the last 16 at Euro 2020 before losing a shoot-out to Spain in the quarter-finals.

They will hope to emulate that memorable run after enjoying a perfect start in a group that also includes hosts Germany, who thrashed Scotland 5-1 in the tournament opener on Friday.

Switzerland face Scotland in their second game on Wednesday, while Hungary play Germany the same day.

Hungary boss Marco Rossi had urged his side to embrace the pressure of being ranked as one of Europe's emerging forces.

But their dismal first half proved fatal, showing that comparisons to Hungary's 'Mighty Magyars', who finished as runners-up at the 1954 World Cup, were rather premature.

"Our players do not make mistakes like this every day. There aren't many strategies to stop individual mistakes. It isn't down to tactics," Rossi said.

"We play Germany in four days. I dare anybody to bet one Hungarian forint on us. As of today that looks impossible."

Swiss on a roll

Switzerland needed just 12 minutes to puncture Hungarian optimism in ruthless fashion.

Aebischer slipped a perfectly weighted pass through the heart of the Hungary defence, sending Duah through to plant a clinical low finish past Peter Gulacsi.

Duah's celebrations were initially curtailed by an erroneous offside flag, but the decision was corrected by VAR as Switzerland's players mobbed their unheralded hero.

The Swiss were on a roll and Willi Orban wasted a golden opportunity to halt their momentum with a close-range header that was straight at Yann Sommer.

It was a crucial moment as Aebischer doubled Switzerland's lead on the stroke of half-time.

With Hungary sat too deep, a flowing Swiss move climaxed with Aebischer curling a superb strike into the far corner from 25 yards.

Varga gave Hungary a lifeline in the 66th minute, just moments after he had missed a sitter.

Dominik Szoboszlai's pin-point cross found Varga and his diving header whistled past Sommer from six yards.

Hungary pushed hard for an equaliser, but Embolo came off the bench to chip a cool finish over Gulacsi in the final seconds.

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