Sports / Soccer

Welbeck powers England win

By Agence France Presse in Basel, Switzerland (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-10 07:37

Danny Welbeck scored twice as England launched its 2016 European Championship qualifying campaign with an encouraging 2-0 road win over chief Group E rival Switzerland in Basel on Monday.

England was criticized for a lackluster display in its 1-0 friendly victory over Norway last week but rebounded with a new midfield diamond introduced by manager Roy Hodgson.

Welbeck was filling in for the injured Daniel Sturridge and the new Arsenal striker rose to the occasion, touching home a cross from Raheem Sterling in the 58th minute and then sealing the victory in stoppage time.

"I thought the way we approached the game from the first minute was exactly what we wanted, and we got our reward," Hodgson told ITV.

"We pressurized the ball well but you need that first goal to get people to come out and attack you. From then I thought we looked dangerous and we had several chances to aggravate the scoreline before Welbeck's second."

It was Switzerland's first competitive home defeat since a 3-1 loss to England in October 2010 and meant new coach Vladimir Petkovic began his tenure in losing fashion.

However, with the top two teams in the group guaranteed to qualify for the tournament in France, it is likely to prove a flesh wound for a Swiss side ranked ninth in the world after its run to the last 16 at the World Cup.

"We started the second half much better, with much more movement and speed, but we committed two major errors and conceded a goal," said Petkovic.

"It's a good lesson and we'll try to make up for it in the next game."

Diamond shape

Facing the team he coached for almost four years, Hodgson used a diamond shape that saw Sterling line up behind Welbeck and Wayne Rooney, with Jordan Henderson, Jack Wilshere and Fabian Delph in midfield.

Delph was making his full debut and began brightly but he was also booked after sliding in on Valon Behrami and Stephan Lichtsteiner in quick succession.

The system meant England always seemed to have options in possession and it began to carve out chances.

Rooney spurned three of them, failing to get a shot away after being picked out by Wilshere, scuffing an effort at Yann Sommer from Sterling's pass and heading over a center from Leighton Baines.

England also failed to exploit a three-on-one situation in the 29th minute, with Welbeck bursting free down the right but failing to pick out either Sterling or Rooney with his pass.

It was only thanks to Switzerland goalkeeper Sommer that the game was scoreless at the break.

After turning away a curling shot from Rooney, the Borussia Moenchengladbach keeper produced an excellent save off the resulting corner, plunging to his left to palm away a firm downward header from Phil Jones.

An open start to the second half saw chances exchanged at both ends but it was England that drew first blood with a neatly crafted goal reminiscent of Sturridge's strike against Italy at the World Cup.

After breaking from midfield, Rooney found Sterling on the left and the Liverpool winger's low center was turned in by Welbeck.

Switzerland substitute Josip Drmic looked poised to bring Switzerland level with 20 minutes left but Gary Cahill slid in to thwart him with a crucial goal-line block.

Jones was forced off with what seemed to be a hamstring injury before substitute Rickie Lambert released Welbeck in stoppage time to beat Sommer with his left foot.

 Welbeck powers England win

England forward Daniel Welbeck reacts after scoring his team's second goal against Switzerland in Monday's Euro 2016 qualifying match at St. Jakob-Park stadium in Basel. Fabrice Coffrini / Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 09/10/2014 page23)

Most Popular
What's Hot