When the Swiss people voted recently to restrict the levels of immigration into their country, you assume those who endorsed the measure were not football fans.
The substitute was left unmarked at the near post as he converted a 93rd minute cross from the left following a rapid counter-attack to send the Swiss fans into raptures.
Both the goals that gave Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side a dramatic victory in Brasilia were scored by players with their roots in the former Yugoslavia. Haris Seferovic, who finished off a brilliantly-executed counter-attack in the last moments of stoppage time, is the child of immigrants from what is now Bosnia while Admir Mehmedi came to Switzerland as a two-year-old from Macedonia.
Both were latecomers to this game, having been introduced as substitutes by Hitzfeld. Switzerland may be the strangest seeds of this World Cup but the changes Hitzfeld made demonstrated why they have a significant advantage with a man who has master-minded two European Cup wins. Sixty-five he may be but Hitzfeld’s mind is still as sharp as a razor blade.
The game might have finished with Ecuador snatching the winner but for a superb blocking tackle from the Serbian-born Valon Behrami which launched a counter-attack that finished with Seferovic clipping the ball home. The Uzbekistan referee, Ravshan Irmatov, deserves considerable credit for waving play on after a foul in the final move.
Switzerland 2 Ecuador 1 player ratings
Switzerland 2 Ecuador 1 player ratings
1/23 Switzerland: Diego Benaglio 6/10
Had no chance with the goal, but saved well from Montero in the second half.
2/23 Stephan Lichtsteiner 6
Excellent going forward, but what caught out at the back by Ecuador's pace.
3/23 Ricardo Rodriguez 9
Set up both goals with his trusty left foot, and made a vital tackle when needed.
4/23 Gokhan Inler 7
Responsible for some lovely through balls, but faded in the heat.
5/23 Steve von Bergen 6
Steady if unspectacular at the back.
6/23 Xherdan Shaqiri 5
Tried to do too much and, more often than not, failed.
7/23 Valon Behrami 7
Not his most influential performance, but made a match-winning tackle in stoppage time before starting the move that led to Switzerland's second.
8/23 Josip Drmic
Dallied in front of goal early on, but had a second half effort harshly chalked off
9/23 Valentin Stocker 5
Always looked to be positive, but end product wasn't the best
10/23 Valentin Stocker 5
Made little impact in the first half and was replaced at the break.
11/23 Best off the Bench (1): Admir Mehmedi 8
Made instant impact off the bench, and was a handful for the entire second half.
12/23 Best off the Bench (2): Haris Seferovic 7
Bagged dramatic winner right at the death.
13/23 Ecuador: Alexander Dominguez 6
Made some fine first half saves, but was caught in two minds for equaliser.
14/23 Juan Carlos Paredes 5
Booked for a cynical challenge and struggled with Switzerland's overlapping.
15/23 Walter Ayovi 8
Distribution was excellent and provided the free-kick for the opening goal.
16/23 Carlos Gruezo 7
The youngster showed a nice touch and kept possession well
17/23 Jorge Guagua 6
Defended solidly when called upon.
18/23 Frickson Erazo 5
Gave the ball away on too many occasions, often putting his team in danger
19/23 Antonio Valencia 6
Started and ended the game well, but disappeared for long periods.
20/23 Cristian Noboa 6
Battled steadily in midfield
21/23 Enner Valencia 7
Headed the opening, and went close to adding a spectacular second.
22/23 Jefferson Montero 8
Was a constant threat with his pace and skill, but was taken off before he ran out of gas
23/23 Felipe Caicedo 5
Anonymous throughout and eventually subbed.
Mehmedi equalised three minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute with a close-range header that was similar to Enner Valencia’s opener for Ecuador in that it was delivered inside the six-yard box from a shoddily-defended set piece. In Germany eight years ago, Switzerland found themselves knocked out without having conceded a goal – they lost on penalties to Ukraine. In South Africa the problem was scoring. Having opened with a victory over Spain in Durban, they did not put the ball in the net again and failed to escape their group.
Hitzfeld pointed out this was a younger, better side than the one he had taken to South Africa. In the shape of Xerdan Shaqiri, another who came to Switzerland as a toddler from the disintegrating state of Yugoslavia, it had an edge.
Nevertheless, Ecuador deserved a point. They took the lead midway through the first half as Valencia headed home a beautifully-delivered free-kick from inside the six-yard box. It was not the last time Walter Ayovi would threaten the Swiss like this.
Four minutes from the end, Diego Benaglio saved smartly when an Ayovi free-kick deflected off the wall. Earlier, he had turned a Jefferson Montero shot athletically wide.
The stadium in Brasilia is named after Mane Garrincha, best described as a Brazilian Paul Gascoigne in terms of natural skill, the poverty of his upbringing and his taste for alcohol. He practically won Brazil the 1962 World Cup on his own and would have enjoyed the flowing move that led to Switzerland’s winner.
As an outsider himself, he would also have appreciated the play of Ricardo Rodriguez who set up both Swiss goals. His father is Spanish and his mother Chilean.Reuse content