PARIS (REUTERS) - Switzerland were on the brink of the Euro 2016 last 16 on Wednesday after they salvaged a 1-1 draw against Romania in a lively Group A clash at the Parc des Princes.
The Swiss, who owe their point to Admir Mehmedi’s second-half strike, have four points from two games while Romania have one after Bogdan Stancu opened the scoring in the first half.
Hosts France, on three points, will be the first team to reach the knockout phase if they beat Albania, who have yet to get off the mark, in Marseille later on Wednesday.
Although the Swiss have a good chance to qualify, at least as one of the four best third-placed teams, they may regret missing several chances in a game that could have seen them move into their first European Championship knockout phase.
Romania, instead, earned a lifeline ahead of their final game against Albania.
After a 2-1 defeat in the tournament opener versus hosts France, Romania started cautiously, allowing their opponents to pick up momentum.
In the seventh minute, Switzerland’s Haris Seferovic beat defender Vlad Chichires in the box but his right-foot effort then went just wide.
The forward had another chance nine minutes later, only for goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu to deny him with his left foot.
Romania, however, scored with their first chance.
Switzerland captain Stephan Lichtsteiner grabbed Alexandru Chipciu’s shirt in the area and Stancu converted the resulting penalty, putting Romania ahead in the 18th minute against the run of play.
Stancu, who also netted from the spot against France last Friday, became the first Romanian player to score two goals at a European Championship.
Two minutes later, Tatarusanu tipped Fabian Schaer’s fierce 20-metre volley over the bar as the game got livelier.
Romania had a huge opportunity to double their tally but Cristian Sapuranu’s shot went just wide.
Blerim Dzemaili’s header was off target as Switzerland missed yet another chance before halftime.
Romania defended well but there was nothing Tatarusanu could do in the 57th minute when Mehmedi drilled a half-volley into the far side of the net.
Switzerland continued to push and coach Vladimir Petkovic substituted Seferovic just past the hour mark for 19-year-old Breel Embolo, who had no impact in a disappointing performance.