SUBSTITUTE Haris Seferovic snatched a dramatic winner with 23 seconds left of added time in the opening game of Group E in Brasilia.
The Real Sociedad striker got on the end of a late counter-attack to convert Ricardo Rodriguez’s low cross at the near post.
Ironically the chance followed from Ecuador’s final attack of the game when Michael Arroyo delayed his shot and was dispossessed by Valon Behrami, who launched a swift break.
Poor defending had resulted in the first two goals with Enner Valencia, who scored against England in their World Cup warm-up in Miami earlier this month, heading Ecuador in front in the first half.
Admir Mehmedi nodded home a corner just two minutes after his half-time introduction and fellow substitute Seferovic won the points with almost the last kick of the game.
Switzerland will feel justice was done as they had a second-half ‘goal’ by Josip Drmic – who eventually made way for Seferovic – wrongly ruled out for offside.
The Swiss, ranked sixth in the world, had sailed through qualifying with seven clean sheets in 10 of a relatively easy group but found the tournament proper a different prospect.
They failed to make the knockout stages four years ago in South Africa despite beating Spain in their opening game, but this time around Ecuador, ranked 20 places below their opponents, had the better of the first half.
Switzerland’s slapdash zonal marking facing Walter Ayovi’s 22nd-minute free-kick saw Granit Xhaka and Johann Djourou both get the wrong side of Valencia, who easily converted from close range.
Just 122 seconds after going on for the second half Mehmedi headed home Ricardo Rodriguez’s corner as marker Carlos Gruezo failed to even jump and goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez got hopelessly out of position.
Arroyo’s hesitation in shooting following Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia’s cross proved calamitous in the final minute as Behrami blocked and broke downfield to set up the winner for Seferovic.