Football / World Cup USA '94: Slick Swiss roll over Hagi and Co

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The Independent Online
Romania. . . . .1

Switzerland. . .4

SWITZERLAND, revelling in the greenhouse effect of the indoor arena yesterday, did all but raise the roof as they subjected Romania to a torrid time in the highest-scoring match so far of the 1994 World Cup finals.

Romania, needing a second win in Group A to become the first nation to qualify for the next phase, failed by a distance. They also had Ioan Vladoiu sent off, four minutes after coming on as a substitute, for a nasty lunge at Christophe Ohrel.

Looking far less impressive than in their opening game against Colombia last Saturday, Romania failed to capitalise on a bright opening spell, which was illuminated by Gheorghe Hagi's virtuosity. Nothing came from a string of crosses and corners delivered by the so-called 'King of the Carpathians', who must have been depressed by the sequel, a goal for Switzerland.

No sooner had Alain Sutter had a goal disallowed for offside than the pig-tailed Swiss midfielder was making one count in the 15th minute. Ohrel's cross from the right seemed innocent enough but, under pressure from Stephane Chapuisat, Ilie Dumitrescu botched his clearance. It went no further than Sutter, who dispatched it with conviction past the despairing Bogdan Stelea.

Gheorghe Popescu then wasted two good chances in a minute for Romania, first miskicking from eight yards after a corner, and then heading a right-wing cross over from close range.

Romania's attempts to equalise had amounted to little else, apart from one raid by Dan Petrescu, which forced Marco Pascolo to dive at his feet. But then Hagi struck. His shot from 25 yards simply flew past the Swiss goalkeeper.

The Swiss regained their advantage in the 52nd minute when first Yvan Quentin and then Dominique Herr chased a loose ball into the penalty box. It finally ran loose to Chapuisat, who slid it beyond the groping Stelea.

Not content with that, Adrian Knup proceeded to put the game out of Romania's reach with two goals in three minutes. The high-scoring forward, who plays for VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga, had missed his team's opening match against the United States with an ankle injury, but he returned with a vengeance. Ohrel's spirited dash down the right left him with an easy task in the 65th minute, and then Knup was gained a decisive touch with his head to a free-kick from Switzerland's excellent midfield orchestrator, Georges Bregy.

There was further misery for Romania seconds later when Vladoiu was sent off for a wild tackle on Ohrel.

SWITZERLAND (4-4-2): Pascolo (Servette); Hottiger (Sion), Herr (Sion), Geiger (Sion), Quentin (Sion); Ohrel (Servette), Bregy (Young Boys Berne), Sforza (Kaiserslautern), Sutter (Nuremberg); Knup (VfB Stuttgart), Chapuisat (Borussia Dortmund). Substitutes: Bickel (Grasshopper Zurich) for Sutter, 71; Sylvestre (Lausanne) for Ohrel, 82.

ROMANIA (3-5-2): Stelea (Rapid Bucharest); Mihali (Dinamo Bucharest), Belodedici (Valencia), Prodan (Steaua Bucharest); Petrescu (Genoa), Lupescu (Bayer Leverkusen), Popescu (PSV Eindhoven), Munteanu (Cercle Bruges), Dumitrescu (Steaua Bucharest); Hagi (Brescia), Raducioiu (Milan). Substitutes: Vladoiu (Rapid Bucharest) for Dumitrescu, 70; Panduru (Steaua Bucharest) for Lupescu, 85.

Referee: N Jouini (Tunisia).