Swiss clock on for finals

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The Independent Online
Football

It took only 90 minutes for Switzerland to overcome Hungary 3-0 on 11 October - but it needed almost a month for Uefa, European football's governing body, to admit that the result meant Switzerland had qualified for the European Championship finals.

Asked by an international news agency to confirm the Swiss had qualified the day after the match, Uefa decided that they had not. Now, though, Uefa's tune has changed. "Mathematically, yes, Switzerland have qualified," a Uefa spokesman, Salvatore Cuccu, said yesterday. "But it is a complicated calculation."

To accommodate England as automatic qualifiers, Uefa decided to take the two worst second-placed teams from the qualifying groups and send them to a play-off. Only results against the teams placed first, third and fourth in each group will count when the second-placed finishers are assessed. When two teams finish level in a group, direct matches between the two count rather than goal difference.

Uefa has said that everyone wanting to know which teams have officially qualified and which are in the play-off will have to wait until Friday - two days after the concluding fixtures. Apart from the Swiss and England, Spain and Russia are the only certain qualifiers.

For the record the Swiss, who have played all their games, qualify because, even if Turkey beat Sweden to leave them second in Group Three, they cannot finish as one of the two worst second-placed teams.

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