England kicked off their Euro 2016 campaign with an encouraging 2-0 win away to Switzerland. Danny Welbeck netted a brace as Roy Hodgson’s men put in a much improved performance against a Switzerland side who are likely to be their main challengers for top spot in the group.
England fans could have expected a more counter-attacking mentality, with the pacey Raheem Sterling and Danny Welbeck starting up front. However the visitors controlled most off the first half as it was the Swiss that sat back. Danny Welbeck ran clear down the right, but he couldn’t pick out either Sterling or Rooney who were waiting in the box. New captain Wayne Rooney forced a save from the Swiss keeper, as his whipped shot from the corner of the box was spooned unconvincingly wide by Sommer. But the keeper made up for it as he superbly kept Phil Jones’ low header out from the resulting corner. Despite not having many goalscoring opportunities, Switzerland had the best chance to take the lead as Haris Seferovic was left 1-on-1 with Joe Hart, but the City stopper made the save with his legs.
Switzerland came more in to the game in the second half, with right back Stephan Lichtsteiner shooting over and a Seferovic volley being well saved by Hart. But as the hosts looked in the ascendancy England hit them on the break. Wayne Rooney picked the ball up on the halfway line and drove forward before slipping in Raheem Sterling down the left. Sterling squared the ball across the six yard box for Danny Welbeck who shinned the ball into the empty net.
The hosts almost levelled immediately, as Leverkusen striker Josip Drmic was fed through and rounded Hart, but Gary Cahill slid the ball off the line. Although replays showed Drmic was just offside, it stood as a reminder to the England defence about the strength of the Swiss attack. Switzerland continued to attack, but were unable to create anything other than long-range efforts. Gokhan Inler shot over after finding space, clipping the top of the net, and Rodriguez’s shot deflected straight up to Joe Hart. England confirmed their victory in stoppage time, as Sterling played the ball up to Lambert, who slipped in Welbeck through the middle to power past the keeper.
It was an assured performance at both ends from a relatively inexperienced England team against a team ranked 11 places above them in the FIFA rankings, offering a lot more cause for optimism than last week’s friendly against Norway.