ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 3, 2018: Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri with a ball in hands in the Knockout Stage Round of 16 football match between Sweden and Switzerland at Saint Petersburg Stadium (Krestovsky Stadium) at FIFA World Cup Russia 2018; Sweden won 1-0. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS

Xherdan Shaqiri helps Switzerland hold Spain on frustrating night for Diogo Jota

Switzerland held Spain to a 1-1 draw that saw two penalties saved, with Xherdan Shaqiri starting on a rare positive night for his country in the UEFA Nations League.

While not a regular starter for Liverpool, Shaqiri is considered one of Switzerland’s key players, and made his 74th start for the Rossocrociati on Saturday evening.

He took up his position as a No. 10, with Switzerland taking the fight to a Spain side who are decidedly weaker than at other points over the past decade.

Despite Spain dominating possession, Switzerland looked to capitalise on mistakes from their visitors, and Shaqiri had a fine opportunity as Breel Embolo pounced on a misplaced pass, only to play it too late and allow Unai Simon to squeeze out Liverpool’s No. 23.

Embolo did turn provider in the 26th minute, however, and his cutback was finished beautifully by Atalanta midfielder Remo Freuler to make it 1-0 and stun Spain.

Shaqiri was dangerous throughout, freeing Haris Seferovic early into the second half with an intelligent long pass that sprang a counter, with Sergio Ramos denying the striker with a goalline clearance.

The 29-year-old was brought off in the 72nd minute, and either side of Shaqiri’s substitution Ramos saw two penalties saved by Yann Sommer, the second a weak attempt at a panenka.

Spain did claw back into the game, however, with Gerard Moreno striking late to rescue his side as Switzerland stay bottom of their group.

Elsewhere, Diogo Jota came on in the 56th minute as Portugal looked to overcome France at the Estadio da Luz, with N’Golo Kante having scored the only goal of the game minutes earlier.

Jota replaced midfielder William Carvalho, but operated as a left winger, and unfortunately struggled to make an impact on the game, making only 24 touches and failing to create a chance or fire a shot on goal.

France emerged as 1-0 victors, and pushed three points ahead of Portugal at the top of their UEFA Nations League group, though both are comfortably clear of third-placed Croatia.

Sunday brings a busy day for Liverpool’s internationals, including Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers for Sadio Mane and Naby Keita, while Jordan Henderson is likely to start as England visit Belgium.