England held 2-2 by Swiss in Euro 2012 qualifying

England’s wretched defending gifted Switzerland a 2-2 draw in

their 2012 European Championship qualifier on Saturday.

Tranquillo Barnetta scored a rapid first-half double. His first

free kick curled over Rio Ferdinand and bounced before wrongfooting

goalkeeper Joe Hart after 32 minutes. A second free kick three

minutes later went through England’s defensive wall and beat Hart

at his near post.

Frank Lampard pulled one back from the penalty spot for England

in the 37th minute and substitute Ashley Young leveled with a

powerful strike six minutes into the second half.

”I was disappointed for the goals that they scored, not for the

first one but for the second because the wall needed to stay tight

and not move,” Capello said. ”The Switzerland players were

fresher, they have had a different season. We suffered because we

arrived without energy.”

Darren Bent squandered two chances to claim a winner for

England, which was missing suspended striker Wayne Rooney.

England remains top of Group G ahead of second-place Montenegro

on goal difference. Montenegro drew 1-1 with Bulgaria at home.

Switzerland is third with five points, six adrift of the

leaders.

”If you can beat the world champions, it is not tough (against

England),” Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said, referring to

last year’s World Cup win over Spain. ”To draw in the home of

football is very good, but we don’t want to overestimate it. We

have to go on … we have nicely developed in the midfield and we

had a lot of pace.”

With three games to go and only the top team guaranteed a spot

at Euro 2012, the dropped points mean it is far from certain that

England will qualify.

The draw reminded Capello of his team’s shortcomings a year

after England’s bleak World Cup campaign, which led to several

changes of personnel in the squad.

Despite a vibrant win in their previous qualifier, against Wales

in March, Capello made three changes from the side that won 2-0 in

Cardiff.

Rooney was replaced by Theo Walcott and Rio Ferdinand returned

from injury to partner captain John Terry in central defense.

The surprise was Capello’s decision to drop Young in favor of

James Milner on the left flank. He introduced the Aston Villa

winger only at halftime, in place of Lampard, but believes he is a

more potent attacking force from central midfield.

Lampard was sacrificed after struggling in the midfield axis

with Jack Wilshere and Scott Parker.

”I needed one player to attack the space and one player

faster,” Capello said. ”The first half we played a lot of short

passes and did not go through to the goal. It was a tactical

decision absolutely (replacing Lampard).”

The match came alive in a five-minute spell after Johnson

conceded a free kick. Barnetta’s free kick was able to float over

Ferdinand and the ball bounced between Granit Xhaka and Johan

Djourou before going into Hart’s net.

England’s disorganized defense had little time to recover before

Hart committed a glaring error at the end of a season when he had

established himself as the first-choice keeper for both Manchester

City and England.

As the free kick delivered from the left flank pierced England’s

two-man wall of Walcott and Milner before bouncing inside Hart’s

near post, his boot helped the ball over the line.

There was a lifeline for England a minute later when Djourou

brought down Wilshere and Lampard scored from the spot.

”In the second half we played not so bad,” Capello said.

Walcott had a penalty appeal dismissed at the start of the

second half before Young leveled, drilling the ball into the bottom

right corner after another substitute, Leighton Baines, chested the

ball into his path.

The first of Bent’s two wasted chances to claim a winner came in

the 65th minute, when Wilshere released him with a precise

through-ball only to hesitate and see the ball blocked by

Benaglio.

Six minutes later, when Benaglio parried another strike from

Young, Bent’s first-time connection sent the rebound over the

crossbar when he could have reacted more calmly with the goal at

his mercy.

England has now drawn three of its last four matches at Wembley

and lost the other.

Lineups:

England: Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole (Leighton Baines,

30), Scott Parker, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Theo Walcott (Stewart

Downing, 78), Frank Lampard (Ashley Young, 46), Darren Bent, Jack

Wilshere, James Milner.

Switzerland: Diego Benaglio, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Reto Ziegler,

Philippe Senderos, Tranquillo Barnetta (Innocent Emeghara,89),

Gokhan Inler, Eren Derdiyok (Admir Mehmedi, 75), Valon Behrami

(Blerim Dzemaili, 59), Granit Xhaka, Johan Djourou, Xherdan

Shaqiri.