Swiss steamroll into first final
© Getty Images

Debutants Switzerland rolled right over ten-man Colombia in their semi-final in Lagos, winning out by a comfortable 4-0 scoreline. The South Americans had become renowned for their big comebacks here at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009, but there were to be no late dramatics against a highly disciplined and organised Swiss outfit at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.

Switzerland came out from the opening whistle in confident mood, and after only 11 minutes they had carved out their first scoring chance. Just three minutes after Haris Seferovic knuckled his warning shot wide from 20 yards, the Europeans were on the board. Nassim Ben Khalifa wriggled his way into the box and referee Michael Hester of New Zealand adjudged Santiago Arias to have intentionally handled the ball, waving a straight red at the unfortunate Colombian defender. Ben Khalifa coolly dispatched the spot kick, putting the Swiss in the driving seat and banging in his fourth goal in six games.

The ten-man Colombians hardly let their heads drop as they marched straight up the other end and began to up the tempo, pressurising their red-clad opponents. The South Americans were looking dangerous on set pieces and, in the 19th minute, Jean Blanco should have done better with his header at the back post after the in-swinging free-kick was badly misjudged by Benjamin Siegrist. Just seconds later, Stiveen Mendoza lofted in a dead ball from midfield that Jeison Murillo was just unable to nod home.

For all the South Americans' spirit and panache, the Swiss always looked dangerous on the counter-attack. After Ben khalifa nearly doubled the lead on one such break up the field, the Grasshoppers hit-man man turned provider and sent Saferovic clear in on goal to score his fourth at Nigeria 2009 in the 36th minute. And they should have been 3-0 up in the dying moments of the half with Granit Xhaka slamming off the crossbar.

It didn’t take long for the Swiss to pick up right where they left off after the interval. Just five minutes into the second half, Colombian keeper Cristian Bonilla was picking the ball out of his net once again, this time a brilliant Bruno Martignoni drive into the roof of the net from an acute angle did the damage. Six minutes later, a whipped-in free-kick was flicked toward goal by Ricardo Rodriguez, requiring a fine reflex save from Bonilla to keep the score at 3-0.

In the 66th minute, the busy Bonilla was back to work again, this time diving to his left to keep out a pin-point header from the hungry Ben Khalifa. Seconds later, the Colombian keeper spilled a hard shot from close range and Rodriguez stormed through to poke home the simplest of rebounds to make the score an emphatic 4-0.

The Colombians tried to scratch and claw their way back into the game, but they were quite simply outclassed on the day. The Swiss will now meet Nigeria in Abuja on 15 November, their first final of a FIFA competition since their 3-0 loss against Uruguay in the 1924 Olympics a full 85 years ago.