A resilient Switzerland side held multiple world champions Brazil 1-1 in a compelling Group E contest at the elegant Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Sunday night.
Barcelona star Phillipe Coutinho gave the 2002 World champions, Brazil the lead in the twentieth minute through a trademark long range effort but Steven Zuber headed the Swiss level five minutes after the break.
Real Madrid star Marcelo captained the Brazilians as Tite continued his rotation policy with the team’s captain armband.
After a couple of half chances for both sides, Brazil were denied on eleven minutes by impressive Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer who kept out Paulinho’s effort after good work by Neymar.
There was nothing Sommer could do however to stop Brazil from going in front nine minutes later when Marcelo cut back for Coutinho who unleashed a thunderous effort from the left side of 25 yards to goal. The little man’s effort going in via Sommer’s left hand post.
The Swiss became more urgent in their approach but still had the little matter of Neymar to attend to as they took turns to foul the PSG superstar. Brazil should have at least increased their lead twice from Neymar’s corner kicks before the break but Gabriel Jesus and Thiago Silva fluffed the opportunities.
They took their lead into the break but the game was back to level terms five minutes into the second half. Zuber’s header to Shaqiri’s corner flew beyond Alisson in the Brazilian goal although TV replays showed the midfielder had pushed Miranda at least twice before his header – an act the referee and VAR overlooked.
The remaining forty minutes were for Brazil to frantically search for a winner with Coutinho, Neymar and substitute Fernandinho shooting off target at intervals.
Sommer still needed to keep his Swiss side in the game though and he did on the dot of ninety minutes when he beat away Roberto Firminho’s header to a Neymar free kick before Fabian Schar cleared Renato Augusto’s effort off the line in stoppage time.
Both teams now lie behind group leaders Serbia who edged out Costa Rica 1-0 in the group’s opening game in Samara.
AS Roma defender Aleksandr Kolarov’s powerful free kick in the 56th minute gave the Serbs the full marks in a dodgy contest and will give them a needed boost ahead of their all-European clash with Switzerland on Friday.