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England v Switzerland

4 Jun 2011 - 4:45 PM

England came from two goals down to earn a point against Switzerland in the final Euro 2012 qualifier of the season.

Two Tranquillo Barnetta free-kicks had given the Swiss a deserved two-goal lead, but a Frank Lampard penalty and an Ashley Young strike got the hosts back on level terms.

Darren Bent missed a great chance to seal the win late on, but, just hours after Pour Moi was delivered late to win The Derby at Epsom, England were unable to complete their own comeback and they now sit on eleven points from five Group G matches.

The hosts began brightly on a glorious June afternoon. Lone striker Bent broke free down the inside left channel after evading the Swiss offside trap and crossed for Theo Walcott, but his former Arsenal team-mate Philippe Senderos got their just ahead of the winger to clear the danger.

A Lampard corner just moments later was met in the air by Glen Johnson but Switzerland ‘keeper Diego Benaglio produced a smart save to deny the right-back an early opener.

After repelling those two England attacks, Switzerland, who have never beaten the Three Lions at Wembley, then gained the upper hand for the next 15 minutes and forced Joe Hart into action. First, Eren Derdiyok tested the City stopper with an angled drive before trying his luck from further out. John Terry’s misplaced pass was picked up by the Bayer Leverkusen front man whose left-foot strike was deflected by the boot of Rio Ferdinand and Hart did well to readjust. A third attempt by Derdiyok was chested and volleyed harmlessly over.

England eventually got themselves back into the game, but Switzerland were proving useful on the counter attack with Xherdan Shaqiri curling a left-footer to the far post, but Hart was again on-hand to thwart the danger and he palmed the ball to safety.

Two headed efforts from James Milner and Ferdinand respectively, from Scott Parker and Lampard’s centres were the closest England came before Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side took a quick-fire, and hitherto deserved, two-goal lead, and both goals came from the same source.

On 32 minutes, Barnetta curled an in-swinging free-kick into the England box which evaded everyone and bounced beyond Hart into the far corner. Lightning struck twice just three minutes later. From a more acute angle, Barnetta whipped a second free-kick between the gap in England’s two-man wall and the ball squeezed just inside the near post despite Hart’s desperate lunge.

Two goals behind at home, Fabio Capello’s side, and the majority of the 84,000 fans inside Wembley Stadium, could easily have become anxious had they not been handed a reprieve almost immediately.

England poured forward from the restart until the ball eventually found itself at the feet of Jack Wilshere. His nimble feet allowed him to skip past a couple of Swiss defenders and into the box before he was tripped by his Gunners team-mate Johan Djourou. Lampard stepped up and drilled the subsequent spot-kick beyond Benaglio to haul the Three Lions right back into the contest.

England’s goalscorer was sacrificed at half-time as Capello introduced Young with a view to injecting some fresh impetus up top and this substitution paid dividends just six minutes into the second half. Milner clipped a ball into the box which Leighton Baines, on in the first half for the injured Ashley Cole, chested into the path of Young who was lurking on the edge of the box. The Villa forward didn’t need a second invitation and rifled home his second international goal.

Now on level terms, England had the majority of the half to complete the comeback, though Switzerland were in no mood to sacrifice their lead without a fight. The visitors regained their composure and the game settled into the even contest the scoreline suggested.

The impressive Shaqiri had a couple of efforts saved by Hart, one a free-kick, before Wilshere sent Bent free down the middle. He outpaced the Swiss backline but was well foiled by Benaglio on the edge of the box.

Man of the Match Young then shot over following Walcott’s square ball before Bent missed a wonderful opportunity to put England ahead. Young was again at the heart of the action and it was his firm shot which was parried by Benaglio. The rebound found its way to Bent but, with the goal at his mercy, he somehow contrived to fire over with his left foot from eight yards out.

In the final minute substitute Admir Mehmedi, on for the injured Derdiyok, flashed an angled shot wide of the far upright as the Swiss sought a late winner themselves, but the final chance of the game fell to Stewart Downing, on for Walcott, who poked the ball into the side netting following Ferdinand’s header across goal and the game ended 2-2.

This was England’s final match of the campaign and they will hope to return to winning ways when their Euro 2012 qualification campaign starts up again in Bulgaria in September.

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