Swiss go goal-shy

UKRAINE PLAYERS celebrate after winning the penalty shootout against Switzerland.-AP

Switzerland were not the only ones guilty. Ukraine were equally TOOTHLESS in attack. For long periods, the two goalkeepers must have wondered what their gloves were for as they watched both teams snuff each other out, writes STEFAN KORSHAK.

Ukraine beat goal-shy Switzerland 3-0 on penalties to reach the quarterfinals and send the Swiss home with just a pair of unenviable records. For the fourth game in a row, the Swiss did not concede a goal but they failed to find the net in 120 minutes and missed all three penalties in the shootout.

Switzerland are the first team to be eliminated from the World Cup without conceding a goal, while it was the first time in 17 World Cup shoot-outs that a team has failed to score even a single kick. Even Andriy Shevchenko's miss with the first kick of the shoot-out did not help the Swiss, but they deserved little else after one of the least entertaining matches of the competition to date.

"We have great heart," Shevchenko said. "We suffered a lot and all our players made great sacrifices."

"It is great to win and I am very happy for all the people of Ukraine."

Swiss coach Koebi Kuhn was at a loss to explain his team's failure to find the net. "It is sad, we are going home, but I think we are leaving with a lot of positive things," he said.

"I said a while ago that the World Cup might be a bit early for us, but I need to change that, I think we were at the right place at the right time and we could have gone through."

Switzerland were not the only guilty party for Ukraine were equally toothless in attack. Shevchenko did hit the bar in the 20th minute with a diving header and Alexander Frei, who scored two goals in the group stages, also hit the crossbar with a fierce free kick.

But for long periods, the two goalkeepers must have wondered what their gloves were for as they watched both teams snuff each other out.

Oleg Blokhin's side were unlucky not to win a penalty just before the hour mark when Shevchenko's free kick clearly struck the forearm of a Swiss defender. Shevchenko, who will play for Chelsea next season, smashed a left-foot strike just wide (66th minute) and Andriy Gusin headed narrowly wide from a corner (73rd minute).

Ukraine were the more attacking side in the last 20 minutes of the match but they could not breach the Swiss defence and the game drifted into extra time. Both sides lacked the courage to chase the game during this period and it looked like only a mistake would yield a goal.

Oleksandr Shovkovskyi easily gathered a shot from Swiss captain Johann Vogel but apart from a couple of dangerous crosses, both the goalkeepers had an easy time.

Ukraine went first in the penalty shoot-out but Shevchenko, who missed from the spot in the Champions League final against Liverpool in 2005, saw his tame effort saved by Pascal Zuberbuehler. But the Swiss handed the advantage back immediately when Streller's shot was saved by Shovkovskyi. Artem Milevskiy and Sergiy Rebrov then scored for Ukraine while Tranquillo Barnetta hit the bar and Ricardo Cabanas' shot was saved. And Gusev kept his nerve to hit the crucial penalty to clinch the win.

Switzerland defender Ludovic Magnin could barely hide his disappointment. "We are depressed and frustrated," he said. "We are people foremost — we have showed the world that small Switzerland is no longer small in football.

"We did not take our chances but I think we should learn from this — I think we left a positive image."

DPA