LONDON - England salvaged a 2-2 draw with
Switzerland after trailing 2-0 at Wembley on Saturday but their
failure to win could cause them big problems in the second half
of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
Victory over Ottmar Hitzfeld's well-organised but beatable
Swiss side would have kept up England's momentum after winning
three of their opening four Group G matches although they do
remain top with 11 points from five games.
Montenegro, who started the day in second place with 10
points from four matches, were on course to replace England as
group leaders but were held to a 1-1 by Bulgaria in Podgorica.
Switzerland, a distant third in the group, took control with
Tranquillo Barnetta scoring direct from free-kicks after 32 and
35 minutes following poor defending by England.
The hosts struck back when Frank Lampard converted a
37th-minute penalty and equalised six minutes into the second
half when Ashley Young, who replaced the Chelsea midfielder at
half-time, scored with a first-time shot.
Striker Darren Bent then missed an easy chance for England
after 71 minutes when he skied the ball over the bar with Swiss
goalkeeper Diego Benaglio on the ground - one of four good
opportunities the home team squandered after pulling level.
England coach Fabio Capello, who surprisingly left Young on
the bench at the start, was disappointed with the result and
said he brought the winger on at half-time to inject some pace.
"At 2-0 down I was hoping to recover the result but after we
got back to 2-2 we had four good chances to score," Italian
Capello told reporters.
"Some of my players had no energy left in the last 10
minutes and you need that because the Swiss have some very good
quality players and in modern football if you can't press it's
Hitzfeld said England's first goal, coming so soon after
Switzerland had gone 2-0 ahead, was the turning point.
"To end up drawing in the home country of football is very
good but we don't want to overestimate it, we have to move on,"
said the German.
"We had a lot of players unavailable, played a new system
and midfielder Gokhan Inler was outstanding. He is an idol to
the rest of the team.
"I am disappointed we didn't win after being 2-0 up but I
will not reprimand the team. I was pleased with the result in
the end," added Hitzfeld.
England have now gone four matches without a win at Wembley,
their worst sequence at home for 30 years, and lacked a cutting
edge up front without the suspended Wayne Rooney.
Although Bent worked hard, wingers Theo Walcott and James
Milner failed to provide him with many chances.
When openings did come Bent's way in the second half, he
failed to add to his run of scoring in his last three England
The first was when he failed to beat Benaglio after being
put through by a stunning past from Jack Wilshere. He then skied
the ball over the bar with Benaglio on the ground after saving
Switzerland were disciplined and tight with Granit Xhaka,
18, having a fine debut and Barnetta ending a 32-match
international sequence without a goal.
England needed a response after going 2-0 down and got it
when Johan Djourou tripped Arsenal team-mate Wilshere and
Lampard lashed his penalty under Benaglio's body.
Capello's team improved after the break thanks to Young's
injection of pace and he equalised with a superb strike which
gave Benaglio no chance.
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