Improving England beat Switzerland
07 Sep 2010 - 21:48:04
Wayne Rooney, Adam Johnson and Darren Bent were on target as England built on their impressive 4-0 victory against Bulgaria with a 3-1 win against ten-man Switzerland in their latest Euro 2012 qualifier in Basle.
However, after dominating the first 45 minutes, England were given a few scares by Ottmar Hitzfeld's side before eventually claiming another three points.
The Swiss had beaten eventual winners Spain in this summer's World Cup finals before losing to Chile and drawing with Honduras but they were made to pay for a dire opening 45 minutes against Fabio Capello's men as they made a losing start to their own qualifying campaign.
Capello had to make one enforced change to his starting line-up with Joleon Lescott stepping in for the injured Michael Dawson.
England scored an early goal to settle their nerves, just as they had done against Bulgaria at Wembley.
In the tenth minute, Theo Walcott set up Glen Johnson who got to the byline and pulled the ball back for Rooney to side-foot home from close range. However, Walcott had to be stretchered from the pitch after appearing to be caught on the ankle as Rooney slotted the ball home.
Switzerland were dire in the first half and Defoe could easily have added another hat-trick to the one he scored on Friday. In the 19th minute the unmarked Spurs striker failed to control a long ball forward when a better touch would have given him the chance to make it 2-0.
Three minutes later great play by Adam Johnson ended with Defoe firing wildly over the bar when he should really have scored.
On the half-hour James Milner's cross was just too far ahead of Defoe before Adam Johnson let fly from 25 yards only to see his left-footed strike go just over the bar.
David Degen had Switzerland's only chance of the first half but he lashed his first-time effort wide.
Just before the interval a superb run by Adam Johnson tore the Switzerland defence apart. He found Rooney who raced to the byline and pulled the ball back for Defoe who was unable to force the ball home.
The second half was a different affair though as Switzerland finally came out of their shell.
Gokhan Inler fired a shot off-target but, just when Hitzfeld's side were enjoying their best spell of the game, they were reduced to ten men in the 65th minute when Stefan Lichtsteiner was handed a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Milner.
England took full advantage with a second goal four minutes later. Steven Gerrard found substitute Adam Johnson with a sublime pass and the Manchester City player rounded the keeper before netting his second goal in four days for his country.
However, the home team were handed an immediate lifeline thanks to Xherdan Shaqiri's superb 25-yard strike which left Joe Hart grasping at thin air.
England were rocking for a while but they weathered the storm and finally sealed an important victory with two minutes left when substitute Darren Bent fired home their third goal.