Gomes and Silva rescue Portugal to deny sluggish Switzerland | Women’s Euro 2022

Two goals in the opening five minutes, coupled with the beautiful weather in Leigh, sent Switzerland on holiday. They thought the game was over but Portugal dominated the match to earn a deserved draw in their Euro 2022 opener.

Coumba Sow and Rahel Kiwic put Portugal on the back foot but they roared back for the remaining 85 minutes, gaining their reward through Diana Gomes and Jéssica Silva after the break.

Portugal came into the tournament wanting to beat their tally of three points five years ago; they might not achieve that in a tough group, with Netherlands and Sweden to come, but they have already shown how much they have improved.

Portugal have known they would be in the tournament for only two months after Russia’s exclusion but their place in it was already precarious after 90 seconds of the match. Sow reacted quickest to a loose ball on the edge of the box after Portugal failed to clear a cross, the forward controlled it and fired across the despairing Inês Pereira, who turned into a spectator as the shot rippled the inside corner of the net. “I told them to keep our dynamics, our momentum,” Portugal’s head coach, Francisco Neto, said. “It’s not easy, you cannot just click your fingers. All great teams are made from these things, going two goals behind and being able to come back.”

Pereira’s second touch of the ball was also to retrieve it from the back of the net, with less than five minutes completed. A deep free-kick to the back post from Ramona Bachmann found Kiwic, who rose easily above anyone in a Portugal shirt to loop a header home. The players’ reward was to celebrate in front of an empty stand because terracing is not permitted in the tournament.

A more physical challenge was needed from Portugal because they could not cope with the more robust Swiss in the early stages. There was a greater willingness to fly into tackles, they enjoyed the majority of possession but struggled to create any opportunities despite Ana Borges’s industrious work in the final third in the baking sun in Leigh.

Diana Gomes starts Portugal’s comeback with a goal to cut the deficit
Diana Gomes starts Portugal’s comeback with a goal to cut the deficit. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

Her workrate was echoed by a compatriot in the crowd who spent the entire match rhythmically drumming to inspire their countrywomen. Neto would credit the crowd with driving Portugal to the draw. “These exciting atmospheres, it’s amazing,” he said.

Portugal felt they should have had a player advantage after the already cautioned Eseosa Aigbogun caught Borges above the ankle but the referee took no action against the Swiss full-back. Borges took revenge soon after by clattering into Viola Calligaris but once again the officiating took a lenient approach to recklessness.

Eventually Switzerland were made to pay for an overly relaxed mindset when one of Portugal’s finely worked corners bore fruit. The aesthetic result might not have been what was planned for on the training ground but Portugal did not care when Gomes eventually jabbed the ball over the line at the second time of asking from close range after Switzerland failed to deal with the original cross. “Dead balls, they are important,” Neto said. “We could have scored twice more from dead ball situations. We are upset about it.”

Crosses were raining in on Switzerland and they could not cope and were unable to deal with the Portuguese press in midfield. An inch-perfect Tatiana Pinto cross found Silva, who had run across her marker to help the ball into the corner on the volley. Portugal were thoroughly on top against the sleepwalking Swiss.

Portugal were in complete control of proceedings and Switzerland looked unable to switch back into competitive mode. Despite being subdued they almost retook the lead through Géraldine Reuteler but her volley from a half-cleared corner hit the top of the crossbar and bounced over.

There was an agonising moment late on when the substitute Telma Encarnação saw her low drive bounce back off a post. A Portugal winner would have been deserved but it was not meant to be.

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“The only explanation is that we were stressed when we had the ball because Portugal put pressure on us,” Switzerland’s head coach, Nils Nielsen said.

“They [Portugal] should perhaps be a little disappointed, they had some more opportunities in the second half they could have scored from.”

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