England survive Swiss scare
Young strike salvages 2-2 draw at Wembley
Last Updated: June 5, 2011 2:50pm
Two-goal hero Barnetta celebrates putting Switzerland in charge
England had to come from behind to draw 2-2 with Switzerland at Wembley and remain unbeaten in Euro 2012 qualifying Group G.
The game exploded into life with a three-goal blitz just after the half-hour mark as Tranquillo Barnetta twice scored unlikely free-kicks before Frank Lampard reduced England's arrears from the penalty spot.
Half-time substitute Ashley Young then volleyed in an equaliser in the 51st minute but the Three Lions could not snatch all three points as Darren Bent missed a glorious opportunity late on.
An English victory would have been cruel on Switzerland, who carved out the better chances in the first half as Fabio Capello's men struggled to find any fluency.
Barnetta opened the scoring with a clever free-kick on 32 minutes that was intended as a cross but crept straight in, while his next goal owed a lot to poor defending as Theo Walcott and James Milner's two-man wall parted and Joe Hart was embarrassingly beaten from a tight angle at his near post.
Jack Wilshere was brought down by Arsenal team-mate Johan Djourou for Lampard's spot-kick as England hit back moments later.
The introduction of Young for Lampard at the break galvanised a hitherto lacklustre England but their failure to go on and win the game leaves the group very much in the balance.
Montenegro remain level on points with England at the top of the table after being held to a 1-1 draw at home by Bulgaria later on Saturday.
With far too many fans still outside when the game started, England began with a wobble.
Switzerland had already served notice that the injection of youth by coach Ottmar Hitzfeld made them a far more potent outfit than they have been for some years.
Even whilst they were beating eventual winners Spain in their opening World Cup match last summer, their strategy was largely a defensive one.
By the time they were blitzed by England in Basel last September, they had reached the end of their shelf life. It appeared England had not been monitoring their opponents because after a bright start, they were pulled apart far too easily.
Hart denied Gokhan Inler, Eren Derdiyok fired over, then Xherdan Shaqiri sent a curling effort towards the far corner which England's previously confident and undisputed number one goalkeeper kept out with a smart save.
It took an excellent Ashley Cole tackle to block Valon Behrami's route to goal, and England could easily have been behind before the twin aberration that left them in huge trouble.
There appeared no obvious danger when Barnetta floated his first free-kick to the far post.
As Rio Ferdinand went for it, Hart remained rooted to the spot. By the time Ferdinand had failed to make contact, his movement was too late and the ball crept in at the far post.
When asked about the potential for making mistakes earlier this week, Hart said he accepted it as part of the job. He might not be so reflective about such matters now, given he was also culpable for Switzerland's second.
Hart could justifiably argue that England would not have conceded had Walcott and Milner done their jobs and remained static and together in a two-man wall.
Once they split, Barnetta had a huge hole to drive his shot through. Hart paid the ultimate price for not stationing anyone on the near post, only able to stick out a foot to help the ball over the line in his desperation to reach it.
But England instantly halved the deficit thanks to Djourou's ill-advised lunge on Arsenal team-mate Wilshere.
There was more conviction about the penalty award than Lampard's spot-kick. It still found its way in though, under the body of Diego Benaglio.
Hart delivered a few angry comments towards a cameraman who got rather too close after the half-time whistle had gone.
When England returned, they did so without Lampard.
The introduction of Young did not require the validation of his equaliser. However, that Lampard was the man to make way represented a bold move on Capello's behalf, and one that could be a pointer to the Chelsea man's 86-cap England career given Steven Gerrard will eventually return from injury.
Young's impact was quick and brilliant. Profiting from assistance by Milner and Leighton Baines, who had replaced an injured Cole, the winger many expect to join Manchester United this summer found the bottom corner with a precise shot.
England pressed forward in pursuit of a winner and, after Wilshere had been booked for a lunge on Barnetta, Young forced a save out of Benaglio with a powerful shot.
The rebound rolled invitingly to Bent. But with only the goalkeeper to beat, he blasted over.
Young then clipped a first-time effort over after Milner had outsmarted Djourou by the touchline.England could get no closer. A year on from South Africa, Capello's anniversary was no cause for celebration.
|1||1st Half Goals||2|
|5||Shots on Target||7|
|8||Shots off Target||5|
European Championship Qualifying
Sat 4th Jun - Group B
Russia3 - 1Armenia
Slovakia1 - 0Andorra
Macedonia0 - 2Rep Ireland
Sat 4th Jun - Group G
England2 - 2Switzerland
Montenegro1 - 1Bulgaria
Sat 4th Jun - Group F
Latvia1 - 2Israel
Greece3 - 1Malta
Sat 4th Jun - Group H
Iceland0 - 2Denmark
Portugal1 - 0Norway
European Championship Qualifying Group A
European Championship Qualifying Group B
|2||Republic of Ireland||10||21|
European Championship Qualifying Group C
European Championship Qualifying Group D
European Championship Qualifying Group E
European Championship Qualifying Group F
European Championship Qualifying Group G
European Championship Qualifying Group H
European Championship Qualifying Group I