by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 15th 2014)
Despite holding England to a 2-2 draw in Miami Ecuadorian hearts were were broken by meticulous planning and Swiss precision. With seconds remaining substitute Haris Seferović scored from close range after a rapid break. Just before Michael Arroyo Mina was given the chance to become a hero to his people, but failed to shoot. Napoliʼs Valon Behrami made the timely block and the broke rapidly.
The referee played an excellent advantage which allowed Switzerland to counter-attack. Ricardo Rodríguez Arayaʼs cross from the left was knocked in at the near post from close range. Seferović had been somewhat goal-shy for his club, netting just four times for Real Sociedad, but Ottmar Hitzfeld who has masterminded Switzerlandʼs stealthy rise to sixth in the world rankings, wonʼt care a whit.
Almost a year ago Manchester Unitedʼs Antonio Valencia Mosquera lost his friend and national team-mate Christian Benítez Betancourt aged just 27. Benítezʼ squad number 11 was retired and a public funeral was attended by Valencia and the countryʼs President Rafael Correa Delgado, among others. Valencia was given the captaincy of Ecuador, but despite retaining it against England, the armband was given to his name-sake Enner Valencia Lastra.
Enner scored the opening goal against England and did so against the Swiss too. Walter Ayoví Corozoʼs free-kick was headed past Diego Benaglio to put Ecuador ahead. Swiss probing resulted in corners, but lacking threat, but that changed after half time. Hitzfeld replaced Valentin Stocker with Admir Mehmedi. It paid off almost immediately. Mehmedi benefited from lazy marking by Carlos Gruezo Arboleda at the corner to nod in at close range three minutes into the second half.
The major talking point came on 70 minutes. It was on every level a wretched decision by the referee. He was in perfect position to see that the pass to Josip Drmić deflected off an Ecuadorian defender and when the original pass was made Drmić was onside. The goal should have stood. The replays showed that. Justice was eventually served when Arroyo failed to shoot and the Swiss counter-attack resulted in Seferović grabbing the spoils.