March 27, 2018 / 9:37 PM / a month ago

Soccer: Ragged Panama given lesson by slick Swiss

LUCERNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - World Cup debutants Panama were given a timely footballing lesson by a slick Switzerland side as they were thumped 6-0 in a friendly on Tuesday.

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Switzerland vs Panama - Swissporarena, Luzern, Switzerland - March 27, 2018 Panama’s Ricardo Ávila in action with Switzerland’s Breel Embolo REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

The Swiss, using the game as a dress rehearsal for their World Cup group stage match against Central American side Costa Rica, scored four times in a 17-minute first half period before adding two more in the second half.

Panama, who face England, Belgium and Tunisia in their group at the tournament in Russia, were beaten 1-0 by Denmark in the first match of their European trip last Thursday but found the ruthless Swiss a different proposition.

The Central Americans, who finished above the United States in the CONCACAF qualifiers to reach their first ever World Cup, struggled to get out of their half for the opening 20 minutes and collapsed dramatically after falling behind.

“Our opponents were quicker, more technical and stronger, better than us in every sense,” said Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez. “They played very well and we played very well.

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Switzerland vs Panama - Swissporarena, Luzern, Switzerland - March 27, 2018 Switzerland’s Josip Drmic scores their fifth goal REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

“It’s better for this to happen here than at the World Cup but, the truth is, it’s still ugly, horrible.”

Blerim Dzemaili exchanged passes with Mario Gavranovic before slotting the ball past Jaime Penedo to open the scoring in the 22nd minute and won a penalty for Granit Xhaka to score the second nine minutes later.

Panama were in further disarray when Nico Elvedi sent a long diagonal ball down the middle of the field, Gabriel Gomez failed to cut it out and Breel Embolo broke clear to dink the ball over Penedo in the 33rd minute.

Slideshow (2 Images)

Steven Zuber added the fourth in the 39th as Panama were again sliced open.

Panama showed signs of an improvement after halftime, creating a few openings and enjoying spells of possession. However, Gavranovic and Fabian Frei added further goals for the hosts, who also face Brazil and Serbia in their group.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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