TBILISI (Reuters) – Switzerland survived a difficult first half and overcame the absence of forwards Xherdan Shaqiri and Haris Seferovic to beat Georgia 2-0 away in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier on Saturday.
Second-half goals from Bundesliga-based Steven Zuber and Denis Zakaria ended Georgia’s unbeaten home run of eight matches as the Swiss ultimately ran out comfortable winners in the Group D match.
Switzerland, playing their first match since their stunning 5-2 Nations League win over Belgium in November, struggled to create chances in the first half and were lucky not to fall behind just before the break.
Georgia worked the ball to Valeri Qazaishvili in an excellent position on the edge of the area but the San Jose Earthquakes midfielder squandered the chance by shooting straight at Yann Sommer.
The second half was a different story as the Swiss took control and went in front in the 57th minute when Breel Embolo laid the ball off to Zuber and he scored with a shot into the corner.
Embolo nearly added another from a similar position three minutes later as the Georgian defence was repeatedly opened up.
Another break in the 80th minute ended with substitute Albian Ajeti’s shot being blocked by goalkeeper Giorgi Loria but it fell to Zakaria who slotted home the rebound.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis)