Switzerland have advanced to the knockout stage in their debut appearance at the FIFA U-17 World Cup after defeating Japan 4-3 in an epic contest in Lagos. Combined with their solid 2-0 win against Mexico, the Swiss booked their ticket from Group B just four days into the competition.
The Europeans were forced to call on all their resiliance to overturn a two goal deficit after 20 minutes. A double from Takumi Miyayoshi had Japan on their way only for the Swiss to turn on the style either side of the interval and score four unanswered goals, including a double from Haris Seferovic.
Japan, who impressed despite an opening day loss to Brazil, started in fine form as Miyayoshi scored the opener after just nine minutes following a pass from Yuki Horigome. The scorer was soon at it again heading home a fine cross from Gaku Shibasaki. Just as Japan looked set to go to the interval with a two-goal advantage, the Swiss crucially pulled to within a goal of their opponents; Seferovic latching onto a long pass to drill home. There was still time enough before the break for Granit Xhaka to crack an effort against the crossbar in one of the final actions of a hectic first half.
Switzerland seemed set to draw level just three minutes into the second stanza when a penalty was awarded after Japanese goalkeeper Jun Kamita rolled over Nassim Ben Khalifa. However, Kamita redeemed himself by saving the penalty with Seferovic incredibly hitting the crossbar from the rebound.
Seferovic was able to breath a sigh of relief just moments later, though, when he converted after latching onto a cross and beating his defender. The Japanese were shell-shocked and it was no surprise that Xhaka gave the Swiss the lead for the first time on 53 minutes with a impressively executed finish. Midway through the second half it was the turn of Ricardo Rodríguez to score from close range.
Deep into injury time Yuki Horigome concluded the scoring by taking full advantage of a defence-splitting pass and giving Swiss goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist no chance. The Japanese now face a must-win match against Mexico on Friday if they are to stand any chance of progressing.