Switzerland has taken complete control of World Cup Qualifying Group 2 after defeating Greece 2-0 in Basle, Switzerland.
Two late goals undid the Greek defence, who were one man down after the 42nd minute dismissal of Loukas Vintra for holding.
After the send-off, Rehaggle attacked his Swiss hosts, but luck was not with the European 2004 Championship winning coach as his side could only go as close as striking the bar before conceding the two goals against the run of play.
Greece opened the brighter of the two sides in the opening moments. With barely 30 seconds played, strong pressure on the Swiss defence opened up an opportunity for Ioannis Amanatidis, who despite a flurry was unable to get a strong enough purchase on the ball with his header.
Knowing well how vital the game’s opening goal would be, Rehaggel’s troops continued with their lively beginning, controlling the tempo of the match with five-pronged defence never once looking under pressure in the initial 15 minutes.
The new-look defence of Sotiris Kyrgiakos, Vangelis Moras and Socrates Papastathopoulos seemed to gel together, with Vintra and Nikos Spyropoulos right and left back respectively.
The absence of Giorgios Karagounis from the middle allowed Rehaggle to take a more cautious approach with his selections, opting for defensive midfielders Costas Katsouranis and Christos Patsatzoglou.
With Amanatidis sitting just behind the dual strike force of Angelos Charisteas and Dimitirs Salpingidis, the German coach would have hoped Greece could poach a goal on the counter and defend its lead.
Swiss marksman Sebastian Frei had the first shot of the game in the 19th minute, but Greek custodian Kostas Chalkias was equal to the task, diving to his left and catching the ball.
Both sides enjoyed equal possession with a flowing game but ultimately chances were few and far between.
Clever intuition and creativity up forward almost allowed Greece to break the deadlock in the 25th minute. With the ball at his feet after a dummy, Charisteas laid the ball off nicely to Amanatidis who was on a slight angle just outside the box, but he sprayed his shot above the bar.
Moments later, Swiss striker Barnetta cut through the Greek defence after a fortunate ricochet puts him through on goal but his shot went wide.
With minutes remaining in the first half, the match was turned on its head. Vintra was shown the red card in somewhat baffling fashion. Vintra could hardly believe his eyes when he saw the referee brandish the red card for his second bookable offence.
The referee decided that Vintra had infringed upon his direct opponent for holding onto his shirt, though the numerous television replays indicated the decision may be incorrect.
The halftime whistle gave reprieve to the Greek defence which suddenly, and harshly, found itself a man down. Rehaggle brought on Giorgios Samaras to replace Salpingidis.
It was a slow opening to the second half at St Jacobs Park in Basle. But it was Greece that almost opened the scoring in the 66th minute despite having been on the back foot.
On the edge of Greece’s box, Amanatidis managed to disposes a Swiss defender, the ball falling to Spyropoulos running in on the left side of the box. He closed the angle and shot high and hard at the advancing Swiss keeper, who parried the ball onto the crossbar.
Amazingly despite landing next to Samaras, the ball bounced awkwardly and Switzerland were able to clear the immediate danger.
The attempt galvanised Greece, who proceeded to dominate the following passages of play.
But it was Switzerland who broke the deadlock in the 82nd minute.
From a right sided cross, left foot substitute Hakan Yakin gave the perfect ball into the Swiss box which was awash with activity.
Grichting was the first and only player to touch the ball, his header crashing into the back of the net with force.
With Greece committing men forward, Switzerland sensed it may double its lead.
In the 85th minute Yakin found himself with space in the box, forcing an acrobatic diving save from Chalkias.
But there was no further reprieve for Greece, and in the 87th minute the home side made it 2-0. Another Swiss counter attack saw Greece completely over committed upfront, with scant presence in its defensive half.
Marco Pandalino headed home despite question marks of offside from the initial ball which set up the cross, and then Pandalino himself, who evidently strayed slightly beyond the last defender prior to the cross itself being played.
The Swiss win means that they are now well and truly clear at the top of Group 2 standings. They have 13 points after seven games, with five wins, one draw and one loss.
Greece is now equal second with Latvia, who defeated Israel.
Both sides have 10 points (four wins, one draw and two losses).
Latvia hosts Switzerland on Thursday, while Greece travels to Moldova.
The Latvia-Swiss match-up will undoubtedly be crucial in shaping Group 2.
Greece will then play its final two qualifying matches against Latvia and Luxembourg in Athens.