International – Capello’s England off to winning start

EurosportWed, 06 Feb 22:33:00 2008

England produced an exciting second half performance to give Italian Fabio Capello a winning start as coach with a 2-1 victory over Switzerland in a friendly international at Wembley Stadium.

FOOTBALL Gerrard, Wright-Phillips, Crouch, Rooney England - 0

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Midfielder Jermaine Jenas scored his first international goal and the first of the Capello era with a first-time left foot shot after superb work down the left from Joe Cole after 40 minutes.

Switzerland, co-hosts of the European Championship in June which England have failed to qualify for, equalised when debutant Eren Derdiyok, a halftime substitute for Blaise N’Fuko, scored with a well struck left-foot shot on the turn after 58minutes.

England regained the lead four minutes later with a move started and finished by substitutes Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips, who had both only been on for just four minutes.

Crouch won a midfield heading duel to set the impressive Wayne Rooney away and he found skipper Steven Gerrard whose cross left Wright-Phillips with the easiest of chances in front of an empty net.

Although Switzerland, who had only beaten England once in 16 meetings in the last 50 years, started well and looked more comfortable on the ball with some early swift counter-attacking, the home side improved as the match wore on and went close to adding at least three more goals early in the second half.

They also just about deserved their halftime lead as Cole and Jenas, worked hard in midfield and created chances for Rooney and each other before the breakthrough came.

Hakan Yakin and Gelson Fernandes were not entirely over-shadowed though, although Switzerland looked more dangerous before the break.

Tranquillo Barnetta and Daniel Gygax both tested 37-year-old David James on his first start in England’s goal since May 2005, while Switzerland also threatened when a Yakin free kick flew narrowly wide.

As the match progressed though England, showing eight changes in the starting lineup from the side that lost 3-2 to Croatia in Steve McClaren’s last match in charge in November, began to take control of the midfield with Rooney coming back to battle for every ball and going close to scoring three times.

Crouch also went close with a well-struck volley that Swiss keeper Diego Benaglio saved well.

However the Swiss defence was twice punished for lapses which need to be improved if they are to make any impression in Euro 2008.

Cole, who minutes earlier had a shot from the edge of the box saved by Benaglio, jinked his way past defender Stephan Lichsteiner and pulled back a perfectly weighted pass for Jenas to sweep in with his left-foot for his first goal in his 18th appearance for England.

England then scythed open the Swiss defence after 62 minutes for Wright-Phillips to produce what proved to be the winner and leave Capello smiling at the end.

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