Switzerland booked their place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ finals with a goalless draw against ten-man Israel at St. Jacob stadium in Basle. Ottmar Hitzfeld's side failed to score for the first time in the campaign, but it did not matter as they secured the points they needed to top Group 2.
A nervy night for the hosts was at least made a little easier on the hour mark when Israel had Avihai Yadin sent off for a second bookable offence and Switzerland should have got their winner soon after when Eren Derdiyok bounced a free header over. Defeat for Israel extinguished their very slim hopes of securing a play-off place, which was made impossible anyway when Greece secured an expected victory over Luxembourg.
The visitors had the first chance with 11 minutes on the clock when Maccabi Haifa's Beram Kayal broke into the area and flashed a shot wide of the target. At the other end Avi Strul made a last-gasp tackle to deny Derdiyok after 25 minutes as neither side could find a way through their opposition's defence in the opening period.
After the interval, Israel probed away at the home defence as they looked to keep their slim dream of qualifying for their first FIFA World Cup finals since 1970 alive. But just as they looked to be getting on top, Israel's ambitions were undermined by the dismissal of Yadin for a second yellow card after 59 minutes.
Three minutes later Switzerland should have gone ahead as Derdiyok spurned the best chance of the game. The 21-year-old Basle striker broke free of his markers to meet a cross, but in his desire to keep his effort down he headed the ball straight into the turf only to watch it bounce up and over Dudu Aouate's goal.
The Swiss were therefore forced to endure a nervy final 30 minutes, knowing an equalising goal would send them into a play-off position, with Greece winning their match in Athens. But Hitzfeld's side held on to ensure they will travel to South Africa and qualify for back-to-back FIFA World Cup finals for the first time since 1966.