From Macdara Ferris at the Parc des Princes.
It ended honours even at the Parc des Prices on Wednesday evening in an entertaining Group A encounter between Romania and Switzerland.
Bogdan Stancu was on the scoresheet once again for Romania before Admir Mehmedi put the ball in the net in the second half for Switzerland to earn the pre-match favourites a 1-1 draw. Neither side could get the win they wanted – the Swiss seeking victory to ensure themselves a place in the last 16 while Romania were looking to get their first win of the competition (and only their second ever in the four appearance at Euro finals). Both sides kept their hopes of progression alive with the point they earned in Paris.
Stancu had shown no nerves on Friday against France when he faced up to taking a penalty in the tournament’s opening game. It was the same again on Wednesday evening when he gave Romania the half–time lead in a very open first 45 minutes.
Manager Anghel Iordanescu had made three changes to his Romania starting XI that had lost following a late winner for France in the first game of Group A. He dropped playmaker Nicolae Stanciu to the bench bringing Alexandru Chipciu into his team. The Steaua Bucharest player had an excellent opening half cutting in from the left to create much of what Romania brought to the game and winning them their first half penalty.
The first chance of the match fell to the Swiss after Romania defender Dragos Grigore had a loose header picked up by Haris Seferovic. The Swiss striker turned and shot but he couldn't curl the ball back on target. Switzerland forced a number of corners, and indeed won some free kicks following heavy Romanian challenges, but they couldn’t get a goal in the opening half from those of set pieces in and around the area.
Romania weathered that early storm to score on 18 minutes on a day the sun finally came out in Paris to shine on the tournament. Swiss captain Stephan Lichtsteiner pulled back Chipciu in the box. Russian referee Segei Karasev had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Like Stancu had done in the other Parisian Euro 2016 venue last week, he scored from the spot, putting it away low to the goalkeeper's right for the opener.
Fabian Schar did go close to squaring things up with a dipping 30 yard shot that drew the best from Ciprian Tatarusanu. The Romanian ‘keeper diving backwards tipped the ball over for a corner.
Chipciu went close to doubling the lead with a trademark run, cutting inside to shoot just by the post before Romania went and hit that woodwork on 28 minutes.
A free kick from Gabriel Torje hit Swiss defender Schar and the ball fell kindly to Cristian Sapunaru. His effort from close to the peno spot hit the outside of the post with the Swiss player guarding the goal Yann Sommer beaten. The Swiss having been on top before the goal was scored found themselves pressed back by a Romanian side bouyed by taking the lead.
Just after the half hour mark Switzerland got a good sight of goal following Mihai Pintilli fouling Blerim Dzemaili ten yards outside the box. Ricardo Rodriguez had a crack at the free from thirty yards but, unlike some other goalkeepers in the tournament so far, Tatarusanu was well positioned to gather the ball.
Their best chance of the half came six minutes from the break when Dzemaili, running onto a lofted cross Lichtsteiner, put the ball wide when he should have headed home. The Swiss fans behind the goal held their head in their hands.
Iordanescu made a switch at the break, bringing on Ovidiu Hoban and he could well have scored within a minute of being on the pitch. The Swiss were on the rack in the opening period and Johan Djourou very nearly put the ball through his own net clearing a cross from Gabriel Torje. Gradually they got on top of the game though.
Switzerland were about to bring on striker Breel Embolo 11 minutes into the half when they won a corner. Manager Vladimir Petkovic decided not to make the switch until after corner kick and the Swiss equalised from the set peice. The ball dropped nicely to Andrei Prepelita and his sweetly struck volley gave his country the equaliser.
Embolo sat back down before coming onto the pitch ten minutes later to sustained applause from the Swiss fans. The 19-year-old player's pace put the Romanian defence on the back foot after his introduction ten minutes after his sides goal and his header on 68 minutes almost gave them the lead with Switzerland having sustained possession of the ball for much of the rest of the game.
Speaking in the press-conference below the stands afterwards, Romanian boss Anghel Iordenescu admitted that his side was second best in the final 45 minutes.
"The second half was dominated by our opponent," said Iordenescu. "We suffered a lot. We faced a huge pressure from Switzerland."
Both sides traded efforts after that in the closing period but each defence stood strong and it remained four wins each between the two sides in their head-to-head. The Swiss now travel to take on France in their final group game in Lille with the French with two wins after two late goals in each of their games.
Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka speaking after the game, but ahead of the French win over Albania, thinks his team can claim the three points against the hosts but knows they will be up against it.
"The French national team will be the favourites," said Arsenal's new signing. "It will be a game to savour. We are not scared of France."
Romania may well fancy themselves to beat an Albania in Lyon who have lost both their games. The Romania manager ultimately was happy with the draw. Iordanescu closed the press conference by saying "we were thinking that if we get this point, we still have this chance to qualify and I hope we can win our third game."
Romania: Ciprian Tatarusanu; Cristian Sapunaru, Vlad Chiriches ©, Dragos Grigore, Razvan Rat (Steliano Filip 62); Mihai Pintilli, Andrei Prepelita (Ovidiu Hoban h/t); Gabriel Torje, Alexandru Chipciu, Bogdan Stancu (Florin Andone 84); Claudiu Keseru.
Subs not used: Costel Pantilmon (gk), Silviu Lung Jr (gk), Alexandru Matel, Cosmin Moti, Denis Alibec, Lucian Sanmartean, Adrian Popa, Nicolae Stanciu, Valerica Gaman.
Bookings: Andrei Prepelita (22), Alexandru Chipciu (24), Claudiu Keseru (37), Dragos Grigore (76).
Switzerland: Yann Sommer; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Fabian Schar, Johan Djourou, Ricardo Rodriguez; Vaon Behrami, Granit Xhaka; Xherdan Shaqiri (Shani Tarashaje 90+1), Blerim Dzemaili (Michael Lang 83), Admir Mehmedi; Haris Serafovic (Breel Embolo 64).
Subs not used: Marwin Hitz (gk), Roman Burki (gk), Francois Moubandje, Nico Elvedi. Steve von Bergen, Breel Embolo, Fabian Frei, Denis Zakaria.
Booked: Granit Xhaka (50), Breel Embolo (90
Referee: Sergei Karasev (Russia).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Alexandru Chipciu (Romania).
will give you a flavour of what Euro 2016 is all about throughout the tournament from our four man team based in France. Amongst the games we are covering over the next few days are Ireland v Belgium, England v Wales, Germany v Poland and Ukraine v Northern Ireland, as well as being in Versailles reporting from the Ireland camp.
Macdara Ferris is a contributor since 2007 to Hoops Scene (Shamrock Rovers' match day programme) and the co-author of Tallaght Time: Shamrock Rovers 2009 to 2012. He still believes that one day he will see Rovers win the FAI Cup. The first international game he attended was Luxembourg being dispatched 2-1 at Lansdowne Road by Jack Charlton's Ireland team. <br /><br /> He has been a writer with extratime.ie since 2012 covering the League of Ireland, the Irish National team and a few Champions League finals. He has also been known to pop up in far flung places like Ballybofey, Belfast, Berlin and Brazil to report for extratime.