Granit Xhaka impressed as Switzerland pulled off a shock win over Portugal in the Nations League on Sunday.

Switzerland's midfielder Granit Xhaka smiles prior to the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Switzerland and Ireland at the Stade de Geneve stadium on October 15, 2019 in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)
Switzerland’s midfielder Granit Xhaka smiles prior to the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Switzerland and Ireland at the Stade de Geneve Stadium on October 15, 2019, in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Switzerland went into Sunday’s group game on the back of three straight defeats, including a 4-0 defeat to Portugal away from home. They sat bottom of the group, preparing to face the team at the top.

So it was more than a little surprising to see Switzerland take the lead in the first minute, and hold onto that lead until the very end.

Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka played the full 90 minutes, and Swiss outlet NZZ called him “outstanding in his favourite role”, whilst Portuguese outlet Record wrote that he acted “as a pendulum in the middle, organising everything”.

Le Nouvelliste wrote that Xhaka coped admirably with the opposing pressure, and “showed that he is indeed a great captain”.

After the game, Xhaka spoke to the media about the win, insisting it was earned despite his team needing some luck.

“We had to show a reaction,” Xhaka said. “We came close to taking a point in the second half against Spain. Today we got off to a very good start.

“Of course, they had chances. We had luck on our side this time. But the victory wasn’t stolen.

“Today we had a good balance – with and without the ball. We fought for each other, which always makes us strong. The team lives.”

Switzerland's midfielder Granit Xhaka reacts during a friendly football match between Switzerland and Kosovo at Stadion Letzigrund stadium in Zurich on March 29, 2022. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)
Switzerland’s midfielder Granit Xhaka reacts during a friendly football match between Switzerland and Kosovo at Stadion Letzigrund stadium in Zurich on March 29, 2022. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Switzerland remain bottom of the group, but they’re now just one point behind the Czech Republic with two games remaining. They really needed Sunday’s win to have any chance of avoiding relegation, and Xhaka helped them to get it.

The Arsenal man will now head off on holiday before linking up with Arsenal for pre-season next month.

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