Euro 2012: Switzerland Hold England On Wembley
Switzerland held leaders England in a 2-2 draw at the Wembley stadium to keep their qualification chances alive. Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side scored the two goals within three minutes, while the hosts leveled back through Lampard and Young.
It was both an electrifying and tense game which found the two sides missing plenty of chances, especially in the second half. Fabio Capello’s side could have even won the game hadn’t Bent missed a golden empty-net opportunity with 20 minutes left. The game started though with bad news for the English side who were forced to make an early change after Cole’s injury. Leighton Baines replaced the Chelsea defender in the 30th minute.
Just a couple of minutes after the substitution, Switzerland too into the first lead of the tight clash. Barnetta, who would leave London with a double, opened the score in the 33rd minute. The left striker brought the firs lead for the Swiss with a free-kick screamer from 20 yards or so which Rio Ferdinand failed to contact it. The ball went into the left hand post as Hart could only witness the superb shot.
Things would get much worse for the English who conceded the second goal just a couple of minutes later. Hitzfeld’s side won another free-kick the same striker took it perfectly. Barnetta took the responsibility for the set-piece to thunder it through the wall and into the near post. Milner moved away from Walcott with whom he had made the wall.
Swiss’s joy wouldn’t last but just a few minutes as England cut the deficit right afterwards. Djourou fouled the lively Wilshere inside the box to gift Capello’s side a huge chance to come from behind. Lampard took the responsibility for the white spot kick to beat keeper Benalgio on the right hand post. The Swiss guessed the direction but failed to make the save.
The next minutes found the visitors picking a couple of yellow cards through Djourou and Behrami. The first one was cautioned for the foul on Wilshere, while the latter one paid tribute to his sins on Milner. Fabio replaced Lampard with Ashley Young at the half time as England were nearing the leveler. Six minuts into the second half, Young made it 2-2 following a superb combination between Milner, Bains and the newly-introduced. Baines fed Young with a lovely chest-pass on the edge of the box to fire it low into the far post.
Hitzfeld then introduced Blerim Dzemaili for Behrami. The 71st minute showed Bent missing by far the best chance of the afternoon. A poor save from Benaglio was fired over the bar from ten yards in what should have been the winner. Switzerland then replaced injured Derdiyok with Admir Mehmedi, while the Italian manager replaced Walcott with Stewart Downing in the 77th minute. Unfortunately for the home side, they wouldn’t be able to score another one, so the game final result went 2-2.
Said a disappointed Capello: “I respect all the players. I am focused every time on the game. I know some Swiss players are playing in really important teams. Six players playing in Italy, some coming from Germany and here in England. The quality of these players is good. They played today with more energy than us.”
Despite the draw, England remain top spot in the group G with 11 points won in five games, being followed by Montenegro who have earned ten points in four games, so the second-placed side have plenty of chances to move top. Switzerland are third with five points won in five games, while Bulgaria lies fourth with four points in four games. Finally, Wales are foot of the table with zero points.
England – Hart; Johnson, Ferdinand, Terry, Cole; Lampard, Parker, Wilshere; Milner, Walcott, Bent. Reserves: A. Young, S. Downing, L. Baines, B. Zamora, G. Barry, P. Jagielka, R. Green.
Switzerland – Benaglio; Lichtsteiner, Djourou, Senderos, Ziegler; Inler, Behrami, Barnetta, Shaqiri, Xhaka; Derdiyok. Reserves: B. Dzemaili, A. Mehmedi, I. Emeghara, G. Fernandes, S. Von Bergen, M. Wolfli, X. Margairaz.11