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Old June 13, 2004, 01:37 PM
rassel rassel is offline
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Default Ten-man Swiss hold Croatia to goalless draw

Sun 13 Jun, 7:04 PM


LEIRIA, Portugal (Reuters) - Ten-man Switzerland have battled to a goalless draw with a disappointing Croatia side in an ugly opening Euro 2004 Group B clash.

The result was frustrating for both sides as they had set out to claim victory knowing their next games are against the group favourites France and England.

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Switzerland were reduced to 10 men when defensive midfielder Johann Vogel was sent off four minutes into the second half on Sunday for a second bookable offence.

Vogel had been shown his first yellow card after only four minutes for a foul on Niko Kovac and was dismissed when for another infringement in a melee of players just after the break.

The PSV Eindhoven man's yellow card was the sixth in a game that became increasingly disrupted by stoppages, several of them for simulation.

There was very little flowing football from either side with the Croatians seemingly intent on breaking up the rhythm of the game and trying to snatch a goal on the counter-attack.

This produced several ugly individual clashes and plenty of theatrical gestures as the card count rose steadily.

Swiss keeper Joerg Stiel was cautioned for dissent and Benjamin Huggel for a foul while Dado Prso, for diving, joined Nenad Bjelica, substitute Milan Rapaic and captain Boris Zivkovic who were booked for fouls and Ivica Mornar for diving.


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Switzerland looked lively in attack and striker Alexander Frei warmed the hands of stand-in keeper Tomislav Butina with a crisp low shot, Tomislav Sokota replying in kind for Croatia.

Croatia quickened the pace at times, Kovac heading over the bar from a corner and then Ivica Olic clipping the bar from close range after Stiel had beaten out a Josip Simunic effort.

Prso had a half chance with a shot on the turn saved by Stiel and the keeper almost misjudged a bounce from a clearance, but in humid conditions, chances were few and far between.
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