England’s hopes of qualifying for Euro 2012 took a hit on Saturday after they were held to a 2-2 draw at Wembley by Switzerland.But it could have been worse for Fabio Capello’s side, who fell 2-0 behind after 35 minutes after two set-piece goals in three minutes from Tranquilo Barnetta.
England responded through a penalty from Frank Lampard, and ensured themselves of a point five minutes after the break when substitute Ashley Young fired a shot past Diego Benaglio.
Switzerland started brightly against a lacklustre England, and had their first chance three minutes in when a strike from Eren Derdiyok forced a save from Joe Hart in the England goal.
The Swiss could have gone ahead after 20 minutes, as Barnetta’s shot was blocked by a defender and fell for Xherdan Shaqiri, but Hart was on hand to avert the danger.
Leighton Baines replaced the injured Ashley Cole on the half-hour mark, when the Chelsea man failed to recover from a heavy challenge from Reto Ziegler.
The pressure eventually told, and Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Barnetta scored the opener from a speculative free-kick that should have been dealt with by the England defence but instead curved inside Hart’s unguarded far post.
Three minutes later it was 2-0, when the Manchester City goalkeeper failed to deal with another free-kick from Barnetta and the ball squeezed in at the near post.
England responded immediately, with Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere throwing his weight around in midfield, forcing the ball forward and earning a penalty when he was brought down by Johan Djourou, although replays showed the decision was fortunate with the Swiss player getting the ball.
Lampard stepped up and slotted the spot kick under the diving Benaglio to give the hosts hope at the break.
Young replaced Lampard during the interval, and the Aston Villa winger levelled the scores five minutes into the half after Baines brilliantly chested the ball down to him and Young drove a volley home.
England had a much better second half and should have taken the lead in the 71st minute when a great run and shot from Young saw the ball break for Darren Bent, but the striker blazed his shot over the bar with the goal wide open.
The point was enough to move England clear of Montenegro on top of Group G, but their ascendancy could be short lived with Montenegro due to play Bulgaria in Podgorica later on Saturday.