England v Switzerland - as it happened

England came from 2-0 down to draw but their hopes of reaching Euro 2012 took a major blow

England v Switzerland is a fixture that tends to have about as much bite as Bleeding Gums Murphy, but that's not the case any more. Oh no, with the FA having returned from Fifa's Zurich-based Temple of Doom after a week of Cuddly Uncle Sepp poking them in the chest and asking what they're gonna do about it if they're so tough, Fabio Capello and his side will be under strict instructions to search and destroy in order to preserve the honour of this glorious nation. They're for it now, the Swiss: insult the English and you're basically saying Pippa Middleton's backside isn't all that. Wrong move Switzerland: you have awoken a sleeping giant.

In summary then: It's on!

In reality: Not really.

A year, then, since England took their comedy act worldwide and jetted off to South Africa for the World Cup. And didn't they do well. Plenty has changed since then. Although plenty of the tinpot generation remain in the squad, there's a tentatively positive feel about England at the moment. Give it until 4.46pm and the first misplaced hoof from Glen Johnson for that frankly unsettling sensation to dissipate. Joe Hart, the man with the golden gloves, has impressed in goal, Scott Parker and Jack Wilshere have hinted at a fruitful partnership in midfield, Ashley Young is finally starting to look comfortable in an England shirt and Darren Bent has three goals in his last three games. Not that they are anything near the finished article yet, and this still has the potential to be a frustrating experience for England, especially with Wayne Rooney.

Indeed they haven't won at Wembley since September, and in that time they have been given a footballing lesson in a friendly by France and laboured to a 0-0 draw against Montenegro in their last qualifier here. The latter means there's not much room to manoeuvre for England; they only lead Group G on goal difference and still have to go to Montenegro. Six points off the top, realistically there's more chance of Roland Bunce actually being made the face of Next than there is of Ottmar Hitzfeld's Switzerland reaching Euro 2012, so for them, this is more about pride and making a nuisance. Should they cause England some bother, they can then sit back with some satisfaction and watch the wailing and flailing that usually accompanies such events.

Switzerland have a fairly terrible record against England and have never won at Wembley, although they did poop the party at Euro 96 when they drew with the hosts in a dire opening game. That game was on the ever-excellent ESPN Classics the other day and seemed to consist of 90 minutes of Stuart Pearce launching it long from left-back. Last Saturday, Barcelona made difficult football look so simple; England always make the simple stuff look so hard.

It's a special occasion today, by the way, graced as we are by the presence of John Terry, who's been making an exhibition of himself again. Here he is talking about Guus Hiddink: "I kept in contact on a personal level. That speaks volumes for him."

The teams are in. And Capello has sprung a surprise by choosing James Milner and Theo Walcott instead of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing. That's an odd choice. Milner has been decidedly average for Manchester City and has struggled playing in a front three, while Young has been very impressive for England in his last few outings. One 0-0 coming right up.

England (4-3-2-1): Hart; Johnson, Ferdinand, Terry, Cole; Parker, Wilshere, Lampard; Walcott, Milner; Bent. Subs: Green, Jagielka, Baines, Barry, Young, Downing, Zamora.

Switzerland (4-5-1):
Benaglio; Lichtsteiner, Djourou, Senderos, Ziegler; Shaqiri, Inler, Behrami, Xhaka, Barnetta; Derdiyok. Subs: Wolfli, Von Bergen, Emeghara, Dzemaili, Fernandes,Mehmedi, Margairaz.

Damir Skominam (Slovenia).

Wayne Rooney has had a hair transplant. What must Bobby Charlton make of it all?

Our first email of the day comes from Luke Stevenson. Well done, it speaks volumes of you. "Ahhh good," he says. "A segment on Jack Wilshere, I don't feel like the English media has of yet put enough unbearable pressure on him so that when he inevitably makes one little mistake he will never recover from the verbal battering that the turncoat media will then dish on him. I'm excited." Wilshere hasn't even won the World Cup. Overrated. Speaking of young players, by the way, why wasn't Daniel Sturridge named in this squad? He couldn't have done much more.

ITV have just shown a segment of England's players getting their photos taken individually, before scrawling their name on the results. Some highlights: Jack Wilshere isn't old enough to have a signature and just wrote his name out in full. How adorable. John Terry decided his was a bit "serious". Not serious enough considering his role as head of state. Theo Walcott said his was "good".

The teams stroll out, and a jaunty beat plays out across Wembley. England, of course, are lead out by John Terry, which speaks volumes of them. On Scott Parker, placidcasual asks "Could we start calling him Group Captain Scott Parker?"

Bill Chilton's noticed the polaroid farce too. I love the bit when the pre match segment with the Polaroid pictures introducing the team with the sub Mo'wax bed track comes on," says he. "No sorry, got the wrong word there. Meant 'stab myself in the face with a ecoli infected cucumber' rather than 'love'."

Darren Bent didn't sing the national anthem. Nor did Fabio Capello. P45 please! Did you know that he's not English by the way?

1 min: Switzerland get us going, attacking from right to left. There are plenty of empty seats inside Wembley. Johnson knocks a long pass down the line for Walcott, but it bounces out of play. And so it begins. "John Terry is endlessly entertaining," says Linda Howard. "It's even the little things - like his penchant for wearing his socks above the knee as if they were ~stockings~. Surely bringing up the imagery of hosiery and the garter belt that seems to be missing(?) is a key component to being deemed EBJT. Maybe this is what bonds him on a personal level with Hiddink?"

2 min: Terry lofts a clever pass over the top of the gawping Swiss defence for Bent, who's played onside by Ziegler. From the left of the area, he tries to slide it across for Walcott, who's only denied by a terrific sliding challenge by Senderos.

3 min: Switzerland are all over the place at the back. From the left, Lampard whips a deep, high corner to the far post. Johnson, totally unmarked, leaps highest to meet it but his header is blocked by the star-jumping Benaglio. The ball bounces down three yards from goal, but as Johnson tries to poke it into the empty net, the keeper denies him again, smothering the danger.

5 min: Hart dawdles over a backpass in the great style of Tomas Kuszczak and nearly has the ball robbed off him by Derdiyok.

6 min: This is too simple. Where's England's midfield gone? Inler strolls through a great, gaping hole through the middle, easy as you like, England already on the beach. Earth to Parker! Inler's touch lets him down and he loses the ball, but it rebounds to Barnetta on the edge of the area. He can't get it under control though and it pinballs through for Derdiyok, who scuffs his shot straight at Hart from 12 yards out.

8 min: The warning signs are there for England already. Under little pressure outside his own area, Terry lazily plays a loose pass to Wilshere, facing his own goal. Unaware of what's going on behind him, Wilshere's on his heels as he's brushed off the ball by Inler, who strides forward again and pings a shot goalwards. It takes a nick off Ferdinand, which makes the save much more awkward for Hart. He can only spill it, but then does brilliantly to save the follow-up from Derdiyok, who was offside in any case.

11 min: Switzerland are having the best of it at the moment. Lichsteiner bombs up the right flank from the back, before Wilshere foolishly trips him to the right of the area. Shaqiri's left-footed cross is headed away by Terry at the near post, a terrific honour for the ball, I'm sure you'll agree, but it's lifted straight back into the area by Switzerland. Derdiyok controls it on his chest and then goes for the spectacular, the overhead kick. No luck, it's miles over the bar. But full marks for the ambition. "When I see John Terry with his socks rolled up over his knees, I am reminded of Jane Fonda in her aerobics phase (not her Hanoi Jane phase)," says Gary Naylor. "Should I get out more?" You know the answer to that one.

14 min: Parker takes advantage of slack play from his former West Ham midfield partner, Behrami, and the ball rebounds to Bent. He charges towards goal, but with no support, he's crowded out by four Swiss defenders. Immediately Switzerland counter, Barnetta loping into space where Johnson is nominally supposed to be. He slides the ball to the edge of the area for Behrami, but with a very presentable shooting opportunity, his touch is woefully heavy and Cole block-tackles him.

16 min: Leighton Baines is warming up. It seems Ashley Cole is injured and will have to come off. He was caught on the ankle by Behrami in that last move.

17 min: A week ago, we were watching Barcelona do their Barcelona thing. Now England are clodhopping about the place, giving the ball away, running into each other and generally being Not Very Good.

18 min: "The more things change, the more they stay the same, says Paul Szabo. "After his team's shock World Cup win over Spain last year, Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld defended his team's defensive play as the only way to nullify Spain. 'These were three unexpected points. If you play an attacking game against Spain, you'll lose and suffer one goal after the next.'"

20 min: Johnson with a throw-in. Straight to Benaglio, the Switzerland goalkeeper. Dear me. England, meanwhile, are being torn apart at the back by the visitors. There's just so much space for them to create chances. Barnetta has a drive from 25 yards out, which is deflected to the right of the area for Colombian pop sensation Shaqiri. He rolls inside, on to his left foot, and then curls a delicious shot towards the far corner which Hart, the busier goalkeeper by far, competently beats away. "I gave it 20 minutes," says Jamie. "Time to flip the channel to watch Total Wipeout: Celebrity Special."

22 min: "Milner, again, is worrying Lichsteiner," says Peter Drury, as the most gritty winger in the world barges into the Swiss right-back, giving away a cheap free-kick.

24 min: Finally England press Switzerland back, without ever looking particularly threatening. In fact, it's all a bit ponderous and laboured, passes slow and lacking in snap. Eventually Parker clips a cross to the far post, where Milner heads harmlessly wide.

26 min: Walcott, who's done nothing of any note so far, takes on Ziegler on the right. The options are sparse, so in the end he does well to win a corner. Lampard sends it in, but Senderos bonces it away. England keep the pressure up though, the ball worked back out to Lampard on the right. He immediately serves up a fine cross into the middle which Ferdinand, on the run, meets with a header which flies inches over the top.

27 min: "James Milner is bad at football," notes Luke Stevenson.

28 min: Cole's still limping. He's surely got to come off. England currently look like they would rather be ANYWHERE BUT WEMBLEY.

29 min: Wilshere nearly slips Bent in, but Senderos cuts his pass out. Switzerland break, but Cole, on one leg, does brilliantly to stop Barnetta releasing the dangerous Derdiyok.

30 min: But England looked so good against Wales.

GOAL! England 0-1 Switzerland (Barnetta, 32 min): This just got interesting. This is precisely what England deserve for a wretched, complacent start, and Switzerland are well worth their lead. The trouble, naturally enough, began when England had the ball inside their own half. Johnson tried to play a one-two with Lampard, but they're not exactly Xaviesta. All that happened was that the ball bounced straight off Lampard and back to Switzerland, and he then compounded the error by bringing down Barnetta on the left. He dusted himself down and got up to take the free-kick. It was too far wide for the shot, but his cross was a goalkeeper's nightmare. Hart didn't know whether to come and when the cross curled over Ferdinand's head, he was stranded, the ball flying into the top-right corner.

SHAMBLES!!! England 0-2 Switzerland (Barnetta, 35 min): Barnetta's done it again and England are in a terrible hole! This is a preposterous goal. If Hart can justifiably argue that he had no chance with the first, this time he has no excuses. Again it's come from a Barnetta free-kick, this one won after Parker fouled Ziegler. It's in a deeper position on the left, but England hadn't learned their lesson from the first goal, and were typically caught out as Barnetta, emboldened by his goal, tried to score again. With Hart leaving his near post unattended, Barnetta spotted the gap and slammed a shot between Wilshere and into the near post, despite Hart's desperate attempts to keep it out with his foot. What is it with England goalkeepers?

36 min:PENALTY TO ENGLAND! England have a lifeline, Djourou taking out Wilshere in the area.

GOAL! England 1-2 Switzerland (Lampard pen, 37 min): It's not a great penalty from Lampard, but he's got away with it. The ball is hit low to the left, but not far enough in the corner. Benaglio guesses the right way but somehow allows the ball to slip under his dive. England are back in it! Suddenly this is breathless.

39 min: Now England cause bother from a free-kick, Benaglio flapping at Lampard's cross, but Bent can't get over the ball and heads well over the top.

42 min: England's penalty was won by some terrific driving play through the midfield by Wilshere. Slicing through the Swiss defence, he got to the edge of the area and tried to score with a low left-footer. It was blocked but deflected back to him and with Switzerland well exposed, Djourou panicked and slid into Wilshere as he touched the ball forward. A clear penalty. Wilshere did all the hard work - Lampard, who's been his usual invisible self, took the glory.

44 min: Baines hurdles a challenge from Lichsteiner and sees the ball run out for a goal-kick. The Slovenian referee decides not to give a free-kick, much to England's annoyance. "Having just watched the last five minutes of the match, can I sign up for the Fiver's well-intentioned Stop Football campaign?" says Dan Holt. "Not because of FIFA shenanigans or too much money in the game, but because our national team is so terrible. We don't belong in the same game as Messi et al. Could we dissolve our football team to stop infecting the world with this dross, and concentrate on our proper national past-times: despondency and moaning about the weather?"

45 min: Bent lays off a useful pass to Milner, who is cynically chopped down by Behrami 30 yards from goal. He's booked and will miss Switzerland's next qualifier.

45 min+1: From the left, Lampard tries to Ronaldo his free-kick, but the ball's currently flying through Neasden.

BOOOOOOOOO! And there's the half time whistle. England's performance has not been greeted particularly favourably by the home supporters. Some people are never pleased - there was some terrific entertainment in that half.

Half time: England 1-2 Switzerland.

England might as well go home now. To my left, Rob Smyth, who's covering a rather better national side, points out that the last time England came from 2-0 down to win a game was in 1976. Then they beat Italy 3-2, Mick Channon getting the winner. In the Italy side that day: one Fabio Capello.

Half-time emails:

"Surely the blame for the Swiss's second goal lies with Milner who decided to wander off rather than stay in the wall," points out Geoffrey. You could be right. I'd like to see it again actually as it came in the middle of a whirlwind few minutes.

"Watch Milner in the wall, for the freekick," says Sam Herbert. "He steps out of the way and let's it through. No goalie in the world would expect that level of stupidity... No blame to Hart for either goal. England have been terribad as always."

"I can understand a Euro qualifier not being that high on the agenda in Argentina, but showing Man U Barça on Fox Sports Vivo when there's a live game that's looking so interesting is, quite frankly, taking the piss just a little bit," says Nick Parker. "Can't resist another chance to watch Messi, Milito & Mascherano stitch up Fergie's boys, I guess."

"Hello Jacob, the debate over whether England would enhance the carling nations cup has surely been put to bed now?" says Alistair Elder.

Well, it was a gamble to play Milner in the first place, but it hasn't come off. Having seen the goal again, it's difficult to blame Hart too much because he's been let down by Milner, who ludicrously stepped away from the wall. Why? What on earth was he thinking? If England lose this, the cries for Fabio Capello's head will be long and loud. The decision to play Milner here may be the final nail in the coffin.

46 min: England have made a change at half time, Ashley Young on for Frank Lampard, who scored a penalty and did nothing else in the first half. Time for Fwank to be put out to pasture. This is a bright, positive start again from England though and there's controversy straight away. Walcott bursts through the middle and is denied a chance to shoot by Senderos's sliding challenge. He got the ball first but then did take Walcott out, and he's slightly fortunate the referee didn't give the foul. "England will step out and get double figures in the 2nd half," toots Jim Geary. "With the EBJT and "EPL's master of motivational rhetoric" Scott Parker double act in that dressing room nothing can stand in the way of such noble international stars when they see victory being denied through such underhand methods as kicking the ball in the direction of our net and hoping no one stops it."

48 min: Young twists and turns on the left, but his cross to the far post is too high. "This is entertaining, but shows the dire calibre of international football," says Lou Roper. "Milner has clearly demonstrated the need for the High Court to bar him from coming within five miles of an England match (although Hart should still have done more to protect his near post) but the presence of the hapless Djourou and Benaglio in the Swiss side will continue to provide hope today."

49 min: "Now that Capello has confirmed his faith in Milner by leaving him on, how hard are you praying that he doesn't pop up with the winning goal?" asks Scott Stricker. I've tempted fate before, but we both know this isn't going to happen.

50 min: Baines forgets the golden rule of football - you're meant to look at the ball. Instead he unwittingly backheels the ball out of play. To be fair, what a backheel.

GOAL!!! England 2-2 Switzerland (Young, 51 min): Capello's decision not to start with Young becomes even more puzzling. This is a finely constructed goal indeed, the slickest piece of play in the entire match. Milner, on a mission to redeem himself, chipped a pass into the area for Baines, whose run had gone unchecked. He had nowhere to go really but showed great improvisation to perfectly cushion the ball back to Young with his chest, and the Villa winger produced an excellent finish, volleying the ball through the bodies, past Benaglio's outstretched hand and into the bottom-right corner off the inside of the post.

54 min: Shaqiri lofts a free-kick into the box from the right but this time it's no trouble for Hart.

55 min: "Good to see that weak goal-keeping isn't solely an English problem," says David Wall. "Benaglio should have saved both of England's goals just as Hart (though perhaps not completely at fault) was lame for both of Switzerland's." That's a bit harsh. You can't really blame a goalkeeper for letting in a penalty, and I felt Young's shot was perfectly judged.

56 min: Shaqiri belts one goalwards from 30 yards out but a deflection takes the sting out of his drive, making it a simple save for Hart.

58 min: Johnson charges up the right, before flicking the ball back to Johnson, whose cross is headed behind for a corner by Lichsteiner. Young's corner is over-hit however.

59 min: Switzerland make their first change, Behrami replaced by Dzemalli, presumably because their names rhyme.

60 min: England have turned up. Why didn't they play like this in the first half? They've started to do this thing where they actually pass to each other. It'll never catch on.

61 min: Dzemalli's first contribution is a total waste. Out of nowhere, Switzerland suddenly had a four-on-three situation, but instead of picking out a pass, Dzemalli drags a miserable shot wide of the left post from the edge of the area. The camera pans to Hitzfeld in the dugout and he looks furious.

62 min: Shaqiri isn't afraid of having a pop from distance. He essentially has one move, coming in from the right and on to his left foot, always looking for the shooting opportunity. He finds it here, but although his effort has a nice shape to it, it's too close to Hart, who holds comfortably.

64 min: This is the best piece of spam I've ever received.

"Good day, my name is Leon Reyome. i want to know if you do have Cappuccino Machine?,please email me back with the price ranges and, Do you give any discount and also let me know the form of payment you do accept. would be awaiting to hear from you. Best Regards. Leon Reyome"

65 min: Chances at both ends. First Wilshere slides an absolutely glorious pass round Djourou. It was just close enough to tease the defender into thinking he could get a toe on it, but ultimately it had too much pace on it, making him look a fool as he falls over in a bid to cut it out. The ball runs through to Bent, but he almost seemed surprised that the pass got through to him, allowing Benaglio to race forward and smother his weak effort. Moments later Switzerland maraud forward. Xhaka finds space on the left of the area and tries to slam the ball into the six-yard box, but Ferdinand gets a crucial block on his drive.

68 min: Jessica Marsano knows the way to a hack's heart. "Do you people have any idea how much pleasure it brings a German to read your newspaper?" she says. "One can read articles explaining the National Team's supposed Renaissance one day, and then follow the disintegration in your wonderfully witty blog the next. Cheers!"

69 min: Xhaka stumbles as Walcott slithers into the area from the right. He shuffles the ball inside to Young, on the edge of the area, but he's leaning back as he tries to curl a shot into the corner and wafts it over. That was a decent chance.

70 min: "Well- you didn't answer the question," says Amir Adhamy. "Do you have the cappuccino machine or not? They're a false economy, you know- milk in the microwave for 30 seconds, followed by a quick 'swoosh' in your spare cafetiere (up and down, up and down) and there's your frothy milk to go with the coffee from cafetiere 1- and boom, a cappuccino. Sell up, man. You're quids in. Trust." Confession time: I don't drink hot drinks.

71 min: What a miss! Moments like this are why Darren Bent is in the team, and he's blown it. England are unlikely to get a better chance to win this game. The move was started after a weaving run from Young, who once again tormented the Swiss defence, tricking his way through the middle, before cracking a low drive straight at Benaglio. He saves it, but not particularly well, only beating the ball out to Bent, who's six yards out and has the whole goal to aim at - and blazes over with his left foot!

73 min: The Wembley crowd, as mature as ever, howls with frustration as Milner sportingly knocks the ball out so Derdiyok, whose afternoon is over, can get some treatment.

75 min: Derdiyok goes off on a stretcher. Admir Mehmedi is on.

76 min: "You don't drink hot drinks?" says Scott Bassett. "What kind of crap is that? Let's dispense with the illusions here: Soups are drinks, so if you enjoy the odd pot of New England clam chowder or miso soup, you're a hot drink drinker." Soup is not a drink. You eat soup. You do not eat a cup of coffee.

77 min: Stewart Downing is going to come on shortly. "Re spam," writes Scott Dustan. "Are you actually checking your email while you mbm this match?" Well, yes, how else do you think all these emails get published?

78 min: And at last, we've got what we all came for: an all-Aston Villa front three, as Downing comes on for Walcott. "Surely there's a chance for you to make a tidy profit by selling Leon Reyome the Guardian coffee machine?" says Phil Sawyer. "If you make enough money perhaps they'll let you be jacob.steinberg.smartcasual."

80 min: England need a goal. Pulitzer please! But with Montenegro yet to play today, a draw here would be a disastrous result for Capello.

82 min: The comically inept Johan Djourou, bringing his Arsenal form to the international stage, tries to let a loose pass from Baines down the left run out for a goal-kick. But he hadn't reckoned on Milner not giving up the chase. Milner nips round him, and runs along the goal-line, before cutting it back to Young, who skies it. He probably should have scored, but had to rush that as he was under severe pressure.

84 min: England are running on empty now. Inler shoots from distance, but Parker deflects it behind for a corner on the right.

86 min: "England are not very good, are they?" says Jan-Eivind Rys. "Sorry Jacob, we'll have to share the Pulitzer this year." Just you wait until the Harry Redknapp gets the job. On the pitch, Switzerland aren't letting England have the ball, which doesn't seem fair. They are our guests after all.

87 min: Glen Johnson. Ah, Glen Johnson. What a player he would be if he could defend. Which is a massive shame seeing as he's a defender. He's just nearly given Switzerland the game, goofing and nearly conceding the ball to Mehmedi, who eventually fouls him. What an escape.

89 min: Switzerland have a free-kick just outside the area, two yards away from the goal-line. In the context of this match, this is an open goal. Tense moments. England breathe a sigh of relief though, Shaqiri rattling his free-kick all the way through the area and out for a throw-in.

90 min: Switzerland replace Barnetta with Innocent Emeghara, who must get a rare old ribbing from referees when he gives away a free-kick.

90 min+1: There's going to be a minimum of three minutes of stoppage time. ENGLAND NEED A GOAL NOW GIVE ME MY PULITZER.

90 min+2: Emeghara races in from the left, before letting Mehmedi take the ball. A swift drop of the shoulder and a shift to the left from him throws the England defence off the scent and works space for the shot. Given a sight of goal, he fires a low shot past Hart and inches past the right post.

90 min+3: With the last kick of the game, Downing messes up the chance to win it for England! A high ball was pumped into the Switzerland box and headed to the right of the area by Terry. Downing reacts quickest, running on to the loose ball, only to sidefoot a volley into the side-netting when he only had Benaglio to beat! And with that, the final whistle is blown. England's hopes of reaching Euro 2012 have taken a major dent. They trudge off, predictably, to the sound of boos.

I wouldn't want to be Fabio Capello tomorrow. Or any day actually. But particularly tomorrow. Dropped points in a must-win game will surely mean he gets a savaging in the press, and to be perfectly honest, this simply wasn't good enough from England. Switzerland played without any inhibitions, although their goals were ridiculous and their defending farcical at times. And, ultimately, they have Xhaka, not Kaka; they should have been beaten. But they weren't, and if Montenegro beat Bulgaria this evening, England will be two points behind them. Thanks for all your emails, I'm off to sell a cappucino machine.

comments powered by Disqus