Switzerland's forward Haris Seferovic (L) scores past Ecuador's goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez during a Group E football match between Switzerland and Ecuador at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 15, 2014. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
A pair of inspired substitutions from Ottmar Hitzfeld earned Switzerland a 2-1 comeback World Cup win over Ecuador in Group E, reports Goal.com.
The in-form Enner Valencia scored his fifth goal in the past five international appearances to give the South Americans the lead after 22 minutes but Admir Mehmedi levelled three minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute.
Both those goals came about as a result of poor set-peice marking, but Switzerland took the points in dramatic fashion courtesy of a clinical counter-attack deep into injury time.
Mehmedi’s fellow replacement Haris Seferovic, who last netted for his club, Real Sociedad, in November, was on hand to convert Ricardo Rodriguez's low cross to spark wild celebrations from the Swiss.
Ecuador made a high-tempo start to the match, launching attack after attack during the opening minutes but the Switzerland defence stood firm.
Their lone striker, Josip Drmic, had a sight of goal in the 12th minute, only for Jorge Guagua to make a timely challenge as the Europeans found their feet.
Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri tried their luck from outside the box - the latter's strike grasped at the second attempt by goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez, who then spilt a 19th-minute shot from full-back Rodriguez behind.
And so it was slightly against the run of play when Valencia headed home Walter Ayovi's pinpoint delivery as Switzerland's customary set-piece solidity deserted them.
Valencia has played a more forward role in the Ecuador team since the death of Christian Benitez last July and, as part of their celebrations, the Ecuador players pointed to the sky in tribute to their late team-mate.
Dominguez showed more assured handling when Valon Behrami headed Shaqiri's corner goalwards and the Ecuador goalkeeper then got a vital touch to send Gokhan Inler's low 36th-minute drive around the post.
Ecuador looked to extend their lead two minutes before the break but Johan Djourou made a last-ditch block to deny Jefferson Montero after Felipe Caicedo had played the winger in.
Mehmedi was introduced at the resumption and Hitzfeld's decision to bolster his attack paid almost instant dividends. Just as Switzerland's marking was found wanting for the game's opening goal, Ecuador allowed the Freiburg forward far too much room to head Rodriguez's corner into the net.
Both teams refused to take a backwards step following the equaliser, Valencia remaining heavily involved as he weaved inside to ripple to top of the netting with an hour played.
Ecuador's pace on the counter-attack became an increasing threat and Diego Benaglio made a fine save after his defenders backed off the rampaging Montero, while Drmic scrambled the ball home from an offside position at the other end with 20 minutes to go.
Shaqiri drilled into the side netting with team-mates well placed inside him, while Valencia almost capitalised on a rush of blood from Benaglio, but the goalkeeper was let off the hook.
Ecuador sub Michael Arroyo erred in delaying his shot in stoppage time, allowing Switzerland to break and after Behrami had made a superb tackle to set them away, Seferovic made no such mistake when he fired home the winner with virtually the last kick.
Switzerland must tackle France in Salvador on Friday, while Honduras are next up for Ecuador later on the same day in Curitiba.
Man of the Match: X Shaqiri (SUI)
As it happened
90` + 3` FULL-TIME: Switzerland 2-1 Ecuador
90` + 3` Assist Ricardo Rodriguez
90` + 3` SURELY THE WINNER!!! - Seferovic fires home what looks set to be the winner after a rapid Swiss break.
90` + 2` A minute to go and the game is so stretched...end-to-end stuff here.
89` Switzerland looking shaky at the back in the final throes of the game. Will there be one final chance for either side? Three minutes of added time to come.
86` GREAT EFFORT - Arroyo's free-kick causes Benaglio all sorts of problems and he needs help from his defence to clear. We're getting into the final stages here with Ecuador doing much of the pressing.
84` Yellow Card Johan Djourou
84` A clever foul from Djourou there as he brings down Arroyo when in a threatening position. It's only a booking for the Hamburg man who had cover from Steve von Bergen.
81` No sign of the Brazil heat sapping any energy here, both sides going gung-ho in search of a winner and I still reckon there's another goal in this...
77` Substitution: Jefferson Antonio Montero out, J. Rojas in
77` Another substition from Ecuador - Joao Rojas replaces Montero.
76` Benaglio and Djourou are involved in a mix-up but Ecuador are unable to capitalise. In amongst this flurry of chances we've had some substitutions. Michael Arroyo has replaced Caicedo for Ecuador while Switzerland's Drmic makes way for Haris Seferovic.
74` SHAQIRI INTO THE SIDE NETTING - Another quick break from Switzerland but the Bayern Munich man fires into the side netting. There's surely another goal or two in this.
71` DISALLOWED GOAL! Drmic thinks he's completed the comeback but he's adjudged offside. A warning for Ecuador...
70` Substitution: Felipe Caicedo out, M. Arroyo in
68` END-TO-END! Montero with another trademark burst down the left but his shot is kept out by Benaglio. We've got an entertaining finale in prospect here folks as both sides attack at will.
66` Shaqiri almost gets Rodriguez in behind the Ecuador backline with a clever pass but Paredes is again on hand to deny him.
63` We're into the final half hour now and it could go either way - both sides pressing and threatening.
60` SO CLOSE FROM ENNER VALENCIA - The goalscorer goes close to a second with a curling strike from outside the area.
57` Carlos Gruezo fires well over from distance - he'll need to come up with something better than that if Ecuador are to regain the lead.
56` STAT ATTACK - Mehmedi was only on the pitch for 121 seconds before hauling his side level. Quite the impact and it looks to have buoyed the Swiss who are attacking with much more conviction now.
54` BOOKING: The first yellow card of the game comes in the 54th minute as Paredes is penalised for a foul on Mehmedi.
53` Yellow Card Juan Carlos Paredes
50` It was almost a carbon copy of Ecuador's opener as Ricardo Rodriguez swung in a delivery from the left and Freiburg man Mehmedi nodded home. Can the Swiss build on this momentum and continue to threaten?
48`Assist Ricardo Rodriguez
Switzerland's forward Admir Mehmedi (R) scores during a Group E football match between Switzerland and Ecuador at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 15, 2014. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
48` Goal Admir Mehmedi
EQUALISER FOR SWITZERLAND: Incredible impact from Mehmedi who heads the leveller with one of his first contributions since joining the action. All square!
46` Substitution: Valentin Stocker out, Admir Mehmedi in
46` HALF-TIME SUBSTITUTION: Admir Mehmedi replaces Valentin Stocker for Switzerland.
Despite creating fewer opportunities than their European opponents, Ecuador will be delighted with their half's work. What's more, as Switzerland will likely press for an equaliser, Montero, Caicedo and Valencia are all capable on the break and could threaten a second.
For all their possession and efforts at goal, Switzerland trail Ecuador by an Enner Valencia goal to nil. The likes of Shaqiri, Drmic and Inler could prove vital for Hitzfeld in the second half as they look to break down an Ecuador defence that has stood up to everything so far.
45` + 2` HALF-TIME: Switzerland 0-1 Ecuador
44` The dangerous Montero again proves a problem for the Swiss backline - cutting in from the left before Johannes Djourou blocks his effort. Ecuador end the half on top.
41` Just less than five minutes remaining in the first half and, despite having nine attempts at goal, Switzerland look set to go in at the break behind due to Valencia's opener.
38` Skipper Inler fizzes an effort at goal that Dominguez tips wide. Plenty of questions asked by Hitzfeld's men recently but as yet they've got nothing to show for their efforts.
36` HANDBALL? Swiss appeals for a penalty are waved away by Mr Irmatov after Fricson Erazo appeared to handle in the area. No doubt a scare for the Ecuador contingent in Brasilia.
35` Valon Behrami produces a header at goal from Shaqiri's corner but Dominguez collects at the second attempt.
32` Switzerland have never beaten South American opposition at a World Cup and, with half an hour played, that record looks set to be extended. Juan Carlos Paredes the latest to deny the Swiss with a last-ditch challenge on Valentin Stocker.
29` Gokhan Inler and Stephan Lichtsteiner look to get Switzerland back on the front foot down the right hand side but Hitzfeld's men are yet to break down a stubborn Ecuadorian defence.
27` STAT - Enner Valencia has now scored in each of his last five appearances for Ecuador. A man in form!
25` Switzerland's previously stoic defence was undone in the simplest of ways as Valencia angled his headed effort into the ground and past Diego Benaglio. Work to do for the Swiss now.
25` Switzerland's previously stoic defence undone in the simplest of ways as the Valencia angles his headed effort into the ground and past Diego Benaglio. Work to do for the Swiss now.
Ecuador's forward Enner Valencia (2nd R) scores past Switzerland's goalkeeper Diego Benaglio (L) during a Group E football match between Switzerland and Ecuador at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 15, 2014. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
22` Assist W. Ayoví
22`Goal E. Valencia
GOOOOOAAAALLLL - An unmarked Enner Valencia heads Ecuador in front from a free-kick against the run of play
21` As we approach the 20-minute mark, Drmic has Dominguez scrambling to his left to keep a fierce effort at bay. Switzerland starting to ask questions of their opponents.
16` CHANCE - Shaqiri holds off the attentions of an Ecuador marker and fires an effort on target that is well saved by Alexander Dominguez.
15` Switzerland have conceded just once in their last seven World Cup outings and Ecuador will need to keep possession better if they are to threaten that record.
Gokhan Inler of Switzerland is challenged by Enner Valencia (C) and Christian Noboa of Ecuador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E match between Switzerland and Ecuador at Estadio Nacional on June 15, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
13` Recently confirmed Bayer Leverkusen man Drmic almost finds a way through but is denied by a saving tackle from Jorge Guagua. Granit Xhaka then hits a long-range effort that sails marginally wide. Positive stuff from the Swiss.
10` Other than Montero's early burst, the game is yet to spark into life with both sides only able to muster hopeful balls in behind their opponents. Here's hoping the likes of Caicedo, Shaqiri or Drmic can conjur up some magic.
4` Jefferson Montero shows a glimpse of his pacy skills, getting behind the Swiss defence with a quick burst. He's unable to keep the ball in play however.
1` Referee Ravshan Irmatov blows his whistle and Switzerland get us under way kicking from left to right in the Brazilian sunshine.
Ecuador's Felipe Caicedo scored seven goals in nine games during qualification and, unsurprisingly, is among Reinaldo Rueda's starting XI. Midfielder Christian Noboa also starts, having been a doubt with a muscle injury in the build-up.
Bundesliga duo Xherdan Shaqiri and Josip Drmic will likely pose the biggest threat for Ottmar Hitzfeld and co who sailed through qualification unbeaten and will go into the game as narrow favourites.
Commentary & Report: Goal dot com