MARIBOR (Reuters) – Milivoje Novakovic’s penalty gave Slovenia a smash-and-grab 1-0 home win over Switzerland in their Euro 2016 qualifier after the visitors were frustrated by superb goalkeeping from Samir Handanovic on Thursday.
Novakovic drilled in the spot-kick in the 79th minute, after Johan Djourou brought down substitute Kevin Kampl with a clumsy challenge, to give Slovenia the lead against the run of play.
The result left Slovenia on three points from two games in Group E while the Swiss, who lost 2-0 at home to England in their opener, have plenty of work to do to finish in the top two and secure an automatic berth for the 24-nation finals.
Switzerland, cheered on by a sizeable following in the 10,000 crowd in Maribor, dominated from the start but Handanovic enjoyed a memorable evening as he denied them a breakthrough.
Having kept out a ferocious Granit Xhaka volley early on, the Inter Milan keeper parried a Haris Seferovic sitter on the stroke of halftime and then thwarted left back Ricardo Rodriguez as well as midfielder Gokhan Inler.
The Swiss were also guilty of poor finishing as Seferovic and strike partner Josip Drmic, getting a rare start together in an adventurous 4-4-2 formation, wasted several chances after good work from tireless playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri.
After Novakovic’s penalty the Swiss threw men forward in a frantic finish but Slovenia held firm as the towering Handanovic picked off one desperate cross into the box after another.