Wembley, Feb 7: Switzerland falls short of glory losing 2-1 at Wembley in a match that raises questions about the team's readiness for Euro 2008.
Switzerland's new goalie Diego Benaglio spared the team greater humiliation Wednesday night after it lost 2-1 to England in a friendly soccer game at Wembley.
Benaglio, 24, put in a solid performance in his first international appearance, stopping several shots that could have put the English side further ahead in a match that saw both sides struggling for dominance. The Swiss started off strongly in the first 30 minutes, but the momentum quickly changed. It was Italian coach Fabio Capello's first match in charge of England, offering him as much encouragement about the potential of his new charges as evidence of the deficiencies that resulted in them failing to reach Euro 2008.
For Swiss coach kobii Kuhn it was an inauspicious runup to the European championships, which Switzerland automatically qualifies for as one of the host countries, along with Austria. Kuhn"s team lacked offensive punch and suffered lapses with poor passing, while failing to capitalize on England"s at times anemic performance.
England substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips ensured that the Capello era began with a win after a fine strike by Eren Dediyok had cancelled out a first-half opener from Jermaine Jenas, one of the more surprising inclusions in the new coach's first line-up. David Bentley's first start in what used to be David Beckham's berth on the right of midfield had been widely anticipated, as had the restoration of David James as first-choice goalkeeper, six months short of his 38th birthday and nearly three years after his last start for his country.
More surprising were the decisions to award starts to Matthew Upson, at centreback, and Jenas, in a five-man midfield. With Wayne Rooney operating as a lone forward, the onus was on Bentley and Joe Cole to push on in support of him, and it was the two wide men who were behind most of England's best work in an first-half that was sufficiently uninspiring for the first chorus of jeers to ring out with barely half an hour played.
Having survived an early scare when Tranquillo Barnetta fired wide for Switzerland after Gerrard was robbed on the edge of his own area, England could have taken a 10th minute lead courtesy of Joe Cole's fine pass for Rooney, whose attempt at a dinked finish failed to clear the Swiss goalkeeper Benaglio.
Soon afterwards the first signs of frustration were etched across Capello's muscular face as a sloppy pass from Wes Brown presented Barnetta with another shooting opportunity. The head coach appeared equally unimpressed by the wild tackle from Joe Cole which resulted in a free-kick from which Switzerland almost took the lead, Mario Eggimann narrowly failing to connect at the back post after Philippe Senderos had outjumped Upson to head on the delivery.
Daniel Gygax then forced James into his first save of the evening before England silenced the mutterings of discontent in the crowd with a marked shift of gear in the run-up to half-time. The impressive Benaglio did well to cut out Jenas's cross after Bentley had played him in behind the Swiss back four before diving to his left to keep out Joe Cole's low drive. But the goalkeeper was finally beaten five minutes before the break.
Collecting Gerrard's crossfield pass, Joe Cole powered in from the left and skipped round rightback Stephan Lichtsteiner in the play of the game before cutting the ball back for Jenas to sweep in his first international goal from the edge of the six-yard box.
Bentley's influence on the match grew after the interval, the Blackburn wide-man twice creating openings for Rooney before Jenas forced Benaglio into another fine save, this time at full-length.
At that stage, it looked as if England might go on to rack up a convincing win. Instead, the Swiss conjured up an equaliser against the run of play.
Barnetta's neat reverse pass gave substitute Eren Derdiyok half a yard on his marker, Rio Ferdinand, and the striker exploited it superbly with a left-foot finish from just inside the area that found the bottom corner beyond James's left hand. It looked like Switzerland were back in the game. But the goal failed to knock England off their stride and within four minutes they were ahead once more, Wright-Phillips tapping the ball into an empty net after the Swiss had been opened up by one of Gerrard's trademark surges through the inside left channel.