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Switzerland's Freuler euphoric, but faces awkward Italy return

DUESSELDORF, Germany : Switzerland's Remo Freuler will be on cloud nine after a classy and pivotal first-half goal on Saturday that helped dump holders Italy out of Euro 2024, but it may come at a price when he returns to club side Bologna.

Freuler had outraged Italian fans in the days ahead of the match in Berlin, when he was asked by an Italian reporter what lessons the Swiss had learned from their 3-0 group stage defeat by the Azzurri in Euro 2020.

His response could have been more tactful. The 32-year-old said the teams had subsequently met and drawn twice, adding "we made it to the World Cup, they didn't."

Italian anger ensued and Freuler apologised on Instagram to fans who may have regarded his remark as provocative. He later told reporters Italy was "the ideal country to spend my life with my family".

But Freuler's rift-healing will not have been helped by his performance on Saturday, when a delightful Swiss move culminated in him darting into the box unmarked and striking home a 37th-minute shot.

Ruben Vargas added to Italy's woes seconds after the interval to help clinch a 2-0 Swiss win and a place in the quarter-finals against England or Slovakia.

Freuler, who was on loan at Bologna from Nottingham Forest last season and spent six years at Atalanta, was careful to avoid any gloating.

"You can see that everyone is happy for you when you score a goal and the whole bench is cheering. Those are simply signs that a team is working very well together," he told broadcaster SRF.