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Swiss fight to stay in Euro 2012 running



Tranquillo Barnetta (centre) gave Switzerland the lead in the first half

Tranquillo Barnetta (centre) gave Switzerland the lead in the first half

(swissinfo.ch)

Switzerland have kept their hopes of qualifying for Euro 2012 alive after drawing with England 2-2 at Wembley on Saturday.

The Swiss side took the lead in the first half, delivering stronger attacking play than a low-key England. To the delight of the 10,000 Swiss fans at the London stadium, midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta scored a rapid first-half double in the 32nd and 35th minutes.

A first free kick curled over Rio Ferdinand and bounced before wrongfooting goalkeeper Joe Hart. A second free kick went through England's porous defensive wall and beat Hart at his near post.

Frank Lampard came back for England minutes later scoring from the penalty spot after a challenge by Johan Djourou earned him a yellow card.

England’s pace picked up in a closely-fought second half, with substitute Ashley Young equalising with a powerful strike in the 51st minute.

Switzerland managed seven on target attempts on the goal, to England’s five. Both sides went away with two yellow cards, with Switzerland committing 15 fouls to England’s 12.

Despite Saturday's strong performance, Switzerland's qualifying chances remain slim, with England and Montenegro leading the group standings.

England now have 11 points and remained at the top of group G on goal difference. Switzerland, who had only won four points in their four qualifying games, now have five points, and moved into third position in the group, also on goal difference.

Playing later on Saturday, Montenegro settled at second in the group, with 11 points, after drawing 1-1 with Bulgaria, who have five points.

Switzerland will have to dig deep in their next matches in September and October if they want to catch up with the group leaders. 

Until now, Switzerland have managed to qualify for every major international tournament since the 2002 World Cup.

New era

Switzerland came into the match hoping to avenge their 3-1 defeat last September, but knowing they had only won one of their last 18 games against England – a 2-1 home win in 1981.

England had to manage without Wayne Rooney, who was suspended, and Jermain Defoe, who was injured.

It was Switzerland’s first match without prolific strikers Alex Frei and Marco Streller, who have retired from international football, with commentators calling it a “new era” for the side.

In remaining qualifying matches Switzerland play Bulgaria on September 6, Wales on October 7 and Montenegro on October 11.

Teams

England

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart

Defenders: Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole (substituted by Leighton Baines), Rio Ferdinand, John Terry

Midfielders: Frank Lampard (substituted by Ashley Young), Theo Walcott (substituted by Stewart Downing), James Milner, Scott Parker, Jack Wilshere

Forwards: Darren Bent

Switzerland

Goalkeeper: Diego Benaglio

Defenders: Stephan Lichtsteiner, Johan Djourou, Philippe Senderos

Midfielders: Reto Ziegler; Valon Behrami (substituted by Blerim Dzemaili), Gökhan Inler; Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, Tranquillo Barnetta (substituted by Innocent Emeghara)

Forwards: Eren Derdiyok (substituted by Admir Mehmedi)

end of infobox

Head-to-head

• Switzerland and England have twice met in the finals of a UEFA European Championship. The last of those games was a Group B fixture at Euro 2004, when England triumphed 3-0 in Coimbra.

• Eight years earlier at Euro 1996, Kübilay Türkyilmaz earned Switzerland a 1-1 draw in the opening match of the tournament.

• England took three points off Switzerland in qualifying for the 1972 Uefa European Championship, winning 3-2 in Basel in October 1971 before drawing the return 1-1 a month later.

(Source: UEFA)

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