Late Swiss Strike Breaks Welsh Hearts

Switzerland 2-1 Wales (AET)

by Martin Townley, Impetus Welsh Women’s Football Correspondent

Above: Kayleigh Green (9) gets an effort in for Wales in Switzerland last night. Photo: BBC Wales.

Fabienne Humm sent Switzerland to next year’s World Cup with a goal in the dying seconds of extra time. 

Humm’s smart finish at the near post a minute into stoppage time at the end of the second period of extra time finally broke Wales and ended Gemma Grainger’s teams’ chance of making a first major tournament. 

Switzerland dominated the ball and saw two goals overturned by VAR after Rhiannon Roberts had given Wales the lead.  Ramona Bachmann equalised just before half-time but despite scoring twice in the second half the Swiss found themselves taken to extra time. 

Despite being underdogs Wales took the lead in the first half.  Rhiannon Roberts turned in from close range after Kayleigh Green’s knockdown from Angharad James’ corner.  The goal coming after 19 minutes after Switzerland had dominated the ball. 

Above: Rhiannon Roberts (5) turns away in joy after putting Wales in front. Photo: FAW.

Wales had a clear game plan to contain and then hit the Swiss with counterattacks.  They came under pressure after taking the lead and eventually conceded.  Ramona Bachmann, who had looked dangerous all game finished off a good Switzerland move. 

The second half continued with the hosts taking the game to Wales.  A VAR check spotted a handball by Rachel Rowe and the Swiss had a penalty.

Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic saw her penalty come back off the post before turning in the rebound.  VAR stepped in and the goal was overturned as no other player touched the ball after the penalty was taken. 

Bachmann thought she had won the game in the 85th minute but an offside in the build-up gave Wales a reprieve.

Into extra time the game went, and as it looked like the Welsh had held on for a shoot-out Humm struck.  Connecting with a cross into the near post Humm guided the ball past Laura O’Sullivan. 

Switzerland will head to the Women’s World Cup next year but it is heartbreak for Wales.  Another campaign in which they have gone close, closer than ever before but again ends without qualification. 

Gemma Grainger spoke to BBC Wales after the game saying: “It is incredibly tough to take. We know the margins at this level are fine and that has been shown tonight. I am incredibly proud of this group. I am proud we competed in this game, and we intend to keep doing that.

Above: Jess Fishlock looking to break through for Wales. Photo: FAW.

“We are disappointed right now, we know we can win these level of games, but it is fine margins. We have to thank our fans for their support in the campaign.”

Despite the defeat for Wales, there are positives to take away from this campaign.  They have broken their attendance record three times during this campaign with a crowd of 15,200 for their play-off semi-final win over Bosnia-Herzegovina last week. 

A crowd of 12,000 plus for the final group game shows how support for the women’s game is rapidly growing. 

For the first time, Wales have gotten into a play-off for a major tournament.  Prior to this, they have always just missed out on even a play-off so progress is being made on and off the pitch.   

Former Wales player Katie Sherwood highlighted this when she told the BBC: “The visibility of women’s football in Wales – you can’t underestimate the power of that. They’re role models and inspiring the next generation so we have to take that from the campaign.”

While it may feel heartbreaking right now, Welsh football is on an upward curve and maybe next time Wales can make that final step. 

Teams: SWITZERLAND (4-1-4-1): Thalmann, Maritz, Calligaris, Bühler, Aigbogun, Wälti, Crnogorcevic, Reuteler, Bachmann, Sow, Fölmli. Substitutes used: Humm, Terchoun, Xhemali, Rinast.

Scorers: Bachmann 45+1′, Humm 120+1′.

WALES (4-1-4-1): O’Sullivan, Roberts, Ladd, Evans, Rowe, Ingle, Holland, James, Fishlock, Jones, Green. Substitutes used: Ward, Morgan, Woodham.

Scorers: Roberts 19′.

Referee: Tess Olofsson.

Attendance: 7,803.

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