England fail to inspire at Wembley

Poor first-half performance ensures England's hopes of qualifying for Euro 2012 take a blow with 2-2 draw against Swiss.

    The draw reminded manager Capello of his team's shortcomings a year after England's bleak World Cup campaign [AFP]

    Poor defending by England gifted Switzerland a 2-2 draw in their 2012 European Championship qualifier on Saturday in London.

    A first-half brace from Tranquillo Barnetta shocked the Wembley crowd at the half-time break, although a Frank Lampard penalty and second-half strike from substitute Ashley Young saved England's blushes.

    Under-fire England manager Fabio Capello blamed England's poor performance on a 'lack of energy' at the end of the season.

    "The difference between the two sides was that we lacked energy, always the same problem," he said.

    "The Swiss were fresher. However, we ended up with a good result, I got a good reaction from the players in the second half but as always at this stage of the season we were without energy."

    Lost momentum

    Switzerland, a distant third in the group, took control with Barnetta scoring direct from free kicks after 32 and 35 minutes following woeful goalkeeping from Joe Hart and equally poor defending by England.

    The hosts struck back when Frank Lampard converted a 37th-minute penalty and equalised six minutes into the second half when Ashley Young, who replaced the Chelsea midfielder at half-time, scored with a first-time shot.

    Striker Darren Bent then missed an easy chance for England after 71 minutes when he skied the ball over the bar with Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio on the ground - one of four good opportunities the home team squandered after pulling level.

    England coach Fabio Capello, who surprisingly left Young on the bench at the start, was disappointed with the result and said he brought the winger on at halftime to inject some pace.

    England have now gone four matches without a win at Wembley, their worst sequence at home for 30 years, and lacked a cutting edge up front without the suspended Wayne Rooney.

    Missing wingers

    Fixtures & Results

    Friday June 3

    Kazakhstan 2-1 Azerbaijan
     Austria 1-2 Germany
     Belgium 1-1 Turkey
     Faroe Islands 0-2 Slovenia
     Italy 3-0 Estonia
     Romania 3-0 Bos-Herze
     Belarus 1-1 France
     Moldova 1-4 Sweden
     San Marino 0-1 Finland
     Croatia 2-1 Georgia
     Liechtenstein 2-0 Lithuania

    Saturday June 4

    Russia 3-1 Armenia
     Slovakia 1-0 Andorra
     Macedonia 0-2 R of Ireland
     Latvia 1-2 Israel
     Greece 3-1 Malta
     England 2-2 Switzerland
     Montenegro 1-1 Bulgaria
     Iceland 0-2 Denmark
     Portugal 1-0 Norway

    Although Bent worked hard, wingers Theo Walcott and James Milner failed to provide him with many chances.

    When openings did come Bent's way in the second half, he failed to add to his run of scoring in his last three England matches.

    The first was when he failed to beat Benaglio after being put through by a stunning past from Jack Wilshere. He then skied the ball over the bar with Benaglio on the ground after saving from Young.

    Switzerland were disciplined and tight with Granit Xhaka, 18, having a fine debut and Barnetta ending a 32-match international sequence without a goal.

    England needed a response after going 2-0 down and got it when Johan Djourou tripped Arsenal team mate Wilshere and Lampard lashed his penalty under Benaglio's body.

    Capello's team improved after the break thanks to Young's injection of pace and he equalised with a superb strike which gave Benaglio no chance.

    Montenegro draw

    England were only spared the indignity of losing top spot in Group G to Montenegro because the team from the tiny Balkan state also had to settle for a home draw, 1-1 against Bulgaria, after conceding their first goal in the group.

    A routine 3-1 win over Malta kept Greece top of Group F while Israel stayed in the hunt by beating Latvia for the second time in three months, this time winning 2-1 away.

    Armenia, who had held Russia 0-0 at home, took a shock lead through Brazilian-born striker Marcos Pizzelli in the 25th minute to stun the St Petersburg crowd.

    But Pavlyuchenko volleyed Russia level within a minute to steady their nerves, made it 2-1 just before the hour and sealed the points with a 73rd minute penalty.

    Russia are one of three teams in the group on 13 points from six matches after Ireland beat Macedonia 2-0 with a Robbie Keane double and Slovakia scraped a 1-0 win at home to bottom team Andorra thanks to a second-half goal from Miroslav Karhan.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    All Hail The Algorithm

    All Hail The Algorithm

    A five-part series exploring the impact of algorithms on our everyday lives.

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    Prince Philip has done the world an extraordinary service by exposing the racist hypocrisy of "Western civilisation".

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    There are a number of reasons why Beijing continues to back Maduro's government despite suffering financial losses.