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Home » Sport » Football

England 2 Switzerland 2

England's qualification bid failed to run like clockwork yesterday as Joe Hart's blunders forced his team to mount a salvage job from 2-0 down against the Group G also-rans.

Switzerland are more famous for quality watches than quality football but were ticking over nicely thanks to awful first-half defending from Fabio Capello's men and keeper Hart in particular.

Tranquillo Barnetta took advantage by scoring twice in three minutes from set-pieces to leave the Three Lions reeling.

However, England clocked a golden chance to pull one back when Johan Djourou tripped Jack Wilshere in the area. Frank Lampard put away the penalty and half-time sub Ashley Young spared his side's blushes with the leveller.

Capello denied he had underestimated the Swiss and blamed tiredness for his side's lacklustre showing.

He said: "I respect all the Swiss players and know some are part of really important teams. Six play in Italy, some come from Germany and here in England. They are quality and played with more energy than us.

"I was disappointed with their second goal because the wall needed to stay tight and not move. I was worried in the final 10 minutes because my players had no energy and the Swiss team were doing really well."

The Italian also lamented a string of missed chances from Darren Bent, while Young and Stewart Downing also botched clear-cut opportunities.

Capello said: "After 2-2 it was incredible because we missed four really clear chances to score a third goal."

England were on top early on against the team they had thumped 3-1 in Basel and Glen Johnson's far-post header forced the first save from Diego Benaglio.

But the Swiss weren't overawed and targetman Eren Derdiyok tested Hart with a low, left-foot drive before a shot from Gokhan Inler that deflected off Rio Ferdinand almost caught out the England No.1.

Capello was forced into a change after half an hour when Ashley Cole limped off to be replaced by Leighton Baines. And his team were soon rocked twice in quick succession from set-pieces.

Lampard brought down Barnetta to the left of the England box in 32 minutes and the Bayer Leverkusen ace curled the free-kick over Ferdinand's head, wrong-footing Hart as it flew into the corner of the net.

It got worse for England when Scott Parker upended Reto Ziegler. Barnetta again curled the ball in but the defensive wall of James Milner and Walcott inexplicably parted and Hart, caught out at his near post, could only kick the ball into his own net.

England were gifted a lifeline 60 seconds later as Djourou tripped Wilshere and Lampard's spot-kick just beat Benaglio.

Capello made a half-time change, Young replacing scorer Lampard, and just six minutes later the Aston Villa playmaker latched on to Baines' chested pass to fire a low shot past Benaglio for the leveller.

Bent side-footed a golden chance over from 12 yards and Young flicked just wide at the near post from Milner's cross before Inler had an effort deflected wide at the other end.

Admir Mehmedi was inches wide with a low cross-shot in injury time and Stewart Downing wasted a great opening for England when he fired into the side-netting.

Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said: "I'm delighted - it is a vital point for us."

Montenegro missed the chance to replace England at the top of Group G after being held 1-1 at home by Bulgaria.

Radomir Djalovic volleyed the hosts' 52minute opener but Ivelin Popov finished off a flowing Bulgaria move in 67 minutes.

 

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