A wasteful Switzerland battled back from a goal down to move to the verge of reaching the knockout phase of a European championship for the first time with a 1-1 draw against Romania in Euro 2016 on Wednesday.
Switzerland dominated possession and had more chances, yet fell behind in the Group A clash when Bogdan Stancu converted a first-half penalty, before Admir Mehmedi levelled after the break with a powerful half-volley into the far side of the net.
The result at the Parc des Princes put the Swiss on four points from two games, which should be enough to see them through to the next round, at least as one of the four best third-placed teams.
The draw secured Romania their first point, but their hopes of qualification remain alive heading into their final match against Albania. Switzerland will face hosts France in their last group stage encounter.
“We created lots of chances but only managed to score one, unfortunately,” said Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic. “I’m not concerned about the lack of goals. You have to get into those positions first.
“We’ll now start looking forward to the France game and make sure we’re as prepared as we can be for that.”
Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu, who made four changes to the team who lost 2-1 to France in their opener, said his team were suffering physically towards the end.
“It’s very difficult to play in those games after two or three days rest,” he said.
“That’s why we wanted to put some new players in our starting 11 and physically we were down in the second half.”
Winger Mehmedi shone for the Swiss but the much-fancied Xherdan Shaqiri and Breel Embolo, who came on as a second-half substitute, failed to have the expected impact.
Lone striker Haris Seferovic should have put Switzerland ahead early on as Romania sat deep, but after beating Vlad Chiriches in the box and with plenty of time to pick his spot, he curled his effort just wide.
Romania were not as wasteful.
Alexandru Chipciu twisted and turned in the area in the 18th minute before Switzerland captain Stephan Lichtsteiner pulled the winger’s shirt, prompting Russian referee Sergei Karasev to point to the penalty spot.
Stancu converted by wrong footing Swiss keeper Yann Sommer to become the first Romanian player to net twice at the European championships after also scoring from the spot in Friday’s defeat to France.
Switzerland went close again when Fabian Schaer’s 20-metre volley was tipped over the bar by Ciprian Tatarusanu while Valon Behrami’s header brushed the post.
Romania’s well-organised defence held firm but cracked in the 57th minute, when Mehmedi fired a fierce angled half-volley past Tatarusanu into the far corner.
Switzerland pushed for a winner, with Petkovic sending the promising 19-year-old Embolo on in place of Seferovic shortly after the hour, but he failed to impress.
Heading into their final game, Romania will be sweating on the fitness of defender Razvan Rat, who asked to be substituted in the 62nd minute, while midfielder Mihail Pintilii also had to be taken off at halftime because of an injury.