Lacklustre Three Lions survive first half scare to rescue a point thanks to substitute Ashley Young's second half strikeEngland survived a first half scare to comeback from two goals behind to earn a 2-2 draw against Switzerland and move a point clear of Montenegro at the top of Group G.
Two goals from Tranquilo Barnetta put the Swiss ahead after 35 minutes, but a Frank Lampard penalty got England back into the game just before half time. The second half was much better from England as Ashley Young was introduced and the Aston Villa man secured a point with a 50th minute equaliser leaving England hoping Montenegro fail to take advantage when they play Bulgaria.
Fabio Capello named another attacking 4-3-3 formation with three changes from the side that beat Wales in their last qualifying game. Rio Ferdinand returned to the centre of defence to partner reinstated captain John Terry, while Theo Walcott and James Milner also started in place of the Ashley Young and the suspended Wayne Rooney.
Switzerland named a starting line-up with four players who have plied their trade in the English Premier League in recent seasons. Fulham’s Philippe Senderos started alongside Arsenal’s Johan Djourou in central defence with former Tottenham full back Reto Ziegler and ex-West Ham midfielder Valon Behrami also lining up for Ottmar Hitzfeld’s men.
England began the game in confident mood and they looked to get their front three of Bent, Walcott and Milner in behind the Swiss defence. Their second attack brought a corner on the left hand side, Frank Lampard fired the ball to the back post where Glen Johnson rose above Ziegler but his header was saved by Diego Benaglio in the Swiss goal.
It was never going to be one-way traffic though and three minutes later the visitors had their first chance of the match. Tranquillo Barnetta and Xherdan Shakiri combined before Barnetta fumbled the ball to Eren Derdiyok who got his shot away but Joe Hart was well behind the low strike.
Two minutes later Hart was again called into action, this time Udinese’s Gokhan Inler latched onto a loose ball out of the England defence and fired a long range strike which was well saved by Hart despite taking a slight deflection off Ferdinand’s toe. The Manchester City keeper parried the ball away which allowed Derdiyok to get onto the loose ball but he was flagged offside by the assistant referee.
The visitors were certainly looking the more threatening in front of goal and they had another excellent chance to open the scoring in the 20th minute. Barnetta saw his long range shot blocked by the England defence but the loose ball spun to Shakiri on the right side of the penalty area, however his curling left foot shot was easily pushed away by Hart and Johnson was able to complete the clearance.
The home side were looking a little timid going forward but they did create a clear opening for Milner in the 24th minute but the Manchester City midfielder was unable to test Benaglio. Scott Park and Johnson combined well down the right hand side before the West Ham midfielder delivered a chipped cross to the back post where Milner rose above Stephan Lichtsteiner at the back post but headed wide of goal.
After having the better chances of the half the Swiss made the next one count as Barnetta opened the scoring in the 32nd minute direct from a free kick. The Bayer Leverkusen winger fired the ball into the penalty area, it was not cleared by Ferdinand allowing it to bounce inside the six yard box and into the back of the net wrong footing Hart in the process.
Three minutes later England failed to learn from their mistakes and allowed Barnetta to double his and Switzerland’s tally. This time the winger was at a much tighter angle on the left but he fired the ball past the desperate lunge of Hart and into the net at the near post. It was a poor piece of goalkeeping from the Manchester City keeper although he will ask questions of Wilshere and Walcott in the wall who broke up and created a huge gap for Barnetta to capitalise on.
The home side looked a little shell shocked after three crazy minutes but they halved the deficit a minute later as Wilshere made his first telling contribution of the game. The young Arsenal midfielder worked himself some space on the edge of the penalty area, his shot was blocked but the loose ball ran back to him and as he broke into the penalty area he was brought down by Djourou to earn England a penalty. Lampard stepped up to take the kick and squeezed the ball under Benaglio for his seventh successful penalty for the national side and giving the England fans something to cheer about.
Surprise| The Swiss team celebrate Barnetta's second strike that stunned Wembley
Ashley Young replaced Lampard at half time as England changed formation slightly with the Aston Villa man playing just off his club team mate Bent. The substitute was immediately involved as England looked to get back on level terms quickly, he combined with Walcott which resulted in the Arsenal man being released on goal but he appeared to be brought down by Djourou on the edge of the penalty area however the Slovenian referee disagreed and deemed it a good tackle.
And five minutes into the second half Young repaid Capello’s decision to make a change as he fired England level. Milner chipped a ball into Baines inside the penalty area, he chested the ball down to Young who volleyed the ball past Benaglio to restore parity with his second goal for his country.
The Three Lions were performing at a much higher than in the first half and came within inches of taking the lead after an hour. A deep cross from Young was retrieved by Bent who found Baines on the edge of the area, he worked a neat one-two with Wilshere before firing a low cross in for Bent but Djourou was able to get in front of the Aston Villa striker and clear the danger.
Five minutes later a sensational pass from Wilshere nearly created a goal for Bent but the striker was unable to beat the advancing Benaglio. Wilshere broke from inside his own half and surged past three Switzerland defenders before playing an inch perfect pass behind Djourou for Bent but Benaglio had read the danger well.
England should have been ahead in the 71st minute as Bent and Young combined again to create a fantastic chance. Young danced through the challenges of two defenders and hit a low shot which was parried away by Benaglio, the loose ball fell to Bent however he was unable to fire into the empty net as he saw his strike sail over the crossbar.
Ten minutes later England had another excellent opportunity to win the game as Milner robbed Djourou on the goal line, but although his pull back was into the path of Young the Aston Villa man was unable to flick the ball into the net under pressure from Lichtsteiner.