UEFA Women’s World Cup: Switzerland 1-1 Belgium
Credit: Joerdeli Photography | Daniela Porcelli

UEFA Women’s World Cup: Switzerland 1-1 Belgium

Géraldine Reuteler's jaw-dropping volley helps Switzerland seal the second play-off final berth 

soppysophs
Sophie Lawson

Still not firing on all cylinders, Switzerland did enough at home to deny Belgium a second shot at making the World Cup as they claimed the second spot in the final.

Stunning

With the match starting in so-so form, it was the hosts who claimed first blood in Biel. Needing only to keep a clean-sheet with an away goals advantage from the first leg, Géraldine Reuteler gave Switzerland the lead in spectacular fashion. With Lara Dickenmann’s whipped free kick nodded back away from the six-yard box, the teenager lifted a leg high into the air. Meeting the ball, the best part of six feet off of the ground, Reuteler timed her shot to perfection, swinging the ball back in, letting it arc over Nicky Evrard and just under the bar.

Not at all able to impose themselves on the pitch, the Red Flames sagged, needing at least two goals to give themselves any hope in the tie. The clock ticked into the last half hour and the dull affair showed no signs of sparking into life, the hosts unquestionably the better team but still without that real flash of something special.

Given a faint glimmer of hope with less than 15 minutes remaining, Tine De Caigny rose well in the box to nod Davinia Vanmechelen’s cross into the ground behind Gaëlle Thalmann. Having already used two substitutes before the first minute of the second half, Ives Serneels allowed himself one more role of the dice, giving Ella Van Kerkhoven to change the game.

The goal, and second lease of life it had given the visitors had come all too late for Belgium. Granted a half chance or two in the dying seconds, the Red Flames remained unable to inflict serious damage. The Swiss the favourites and the better side. 

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The Dutch await

After a goal-laden first leg, there was a certain flatness to the match in Switzerland, the hosts the dominant force but the strain of a second match in five days possibly catching up with them.

Against a Dutch side starting to refind their feet, it’s likely the Swiss could struggle, the team with its stars not always able to show its quality. Although Ramona Bachmann and Dickenmann play well enough, there isn’t enough support from their countrywomen, the team not able to fully lift its level for the international stage. And should they reach the World Cup, incoming coach Nils Nielsen will have his work cut out for him in the short-space of time before the tournament kicks off in Paris in June.

The Belgians, who had done so well in the first leg never found their rhythm in Biel. Still finding themselves on the international stage, the [mostly] young team has shown flashes over the last two years. From qualifying for the Euros to their second chance at reaching the World Cup, the side is an up and coming one but is likely to still need a healthy number of years with good investment.

A long-way from the level associated with the Red Devils, the home league in Belgium still ranks low when compared with that of France and Germany – or even the Netherlands – the more talented players have made their way away but overall it’s a semi-professional side and it shows.

Miss Switzerland

A blood, sweat and tears player who lives and dies by the badge, Bachmann was once more the best player on the pitch for the hosts. Relentlessly running at the visiting defence and keeping Evrard honest, it was clear the Chelsea woman was keen, not just to put the match to bed, but to entertain the home fans. 

With  a hand in both goals in the first leg, Bachmann remained the focus in attack, making tireless runs until she was forced to limp off late in the day. The team, having just conceded, nowhere near as dangerous with her off of the pitch.

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