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
”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
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
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
England has now drawn three of its last four matches at Wembley
and lost the other.
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