SWITZERLAND 0, ENGLAND 2 (EURO 2016, GROUP E)
DANNY WELBECK SCORES TWICE; JOE HART WITH CONFIDENCE BOOSTING SAVES; ENGLAND TOP GROUP E AFTER BEATING SWISS IN BASEL
Two second half goals for Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck propelled England to an encouraging victory in Basel against Euro 2016 Group E rivals Switzerland – it was the first defeat in qualifiers for four years for the Swiss, ironically also against England in Basel.
England captain Wayne Rooney was delighted by the result, and by England’s performance in Basel. He said:
“I thought we played some great stuff today. We defended well as a team and we took our chances.
“It was a great result for our first game and Danny got us some great goals.
“The Norway game was always going to be difficult off the back of the World Cup but tonight was the most important game for us.
“We put the work in on our defensive shape and could spring from defence into attack.”
Roy Hodgson, the England manager, admitted there was room for improvement, especially with the number of inexperienced players in the team which included debutant Fabian Delph. He said:
“The way the players approached the game was exactly what we wanted.
“They made hard work of it against one of the better teams in the group.
“Switzerland were content to let us dominate in the first half but you need that first goal to make them come out.”
England made two changes to the side that narrowly beat Norway at Wembley last Wednesday with Welbeck replacing the injured Daniel Sturridge to notch ten goals in 28 internationals for England.
Aston Villa midfielder Delph was given a debut for England as a more defensive minded midfielder in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as Hodgson opted for a diamond formation similar to that deployed against the Norwegians in the second half at Wembley.
Jack Wilshere was the deep-lying playmaker in the Andrea Pirlo mould, with protection from Jordan Henderson and Delph ahead of him.
Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling was the forward point of the midfield diamond playing behind captain Wayne Rooney and Welbeck.
It might not have been an entirely convincing performance by England, but it was enough to earn them a precious three points to set them on their way after the Swiss played a cautious first half, wary of England’s pace in forward areas.
It took until the second half for England to finally profit from their hard work on the night although they had to ride their luck at times.
The Swiss had an early penalty shout against Phil Jones correctly turned down while debutant Delph was booked for an early and mistimed foul.
England improved after the break and Sterling’s mishit shot came off Valon Behrami and almost beat his own ‘keeper.
England’s deserved goal finally came in the 58th minute, with a counter attack ball falling to Wayne Rooney who had Sterling and Welbeck ahead of him.
Rooney chose Sterling on his left for his forward pass and the Liverpool winger delivered a pinpoint cross for Welbeck to put England into the lead with a slightly scruffy conversion that went in off his shin.
England switched to a more secure 4-3-3 to catch the Swiss on the break and had to be on guard as the Swiss committed more into attack.
Joe Hart was in impressive form to tip away a chance from Haris Seferovic having already saved from the Swiss striker in the first half and a deflected second half shot by Gokhan Inler, while Gary Cahill raced back to clear off his own line from Josip Drmic.
Welbeck finished off the Swiss in the fourth minute of added time after tucking away substitute Ricky Lambert’s unselfish square pass with a well composed strike.