England were held to a draw after surviving a major scare against Switzerland as they were forced to come from two goals behind to earn a point in the Euro 2012 qualifier at Wembley.
Fabio Capello's out-of-sorts side looked to be heading for a damaging defeat and a heavy blow to their hopes of reaching Poland and Ukraine next summer as Switzerland deservedly took command.
Tranquillo Barnetta was the grateful beneficiary of uncertain England defending and poor goalkeeping from Joe Hart as he twice saw speculative free-kicks end in the back of the net in the first half.
Wembley was noisily registering its unrest with Capello and England, who were without the suspended Wayne Rooney, when Johan Djourou's foul on Jack Wilshere gave Frank Lampard the opportunity to pull a goal back from the spot before the interval and provide the foundations for a second-half recovery.
Capello mystifyingly left Ashley Young out despite a match-winning display in
the Euro 2012 qualifier win in Wales in March
and he only underlined the folly of the decision by emerging as substitute at half-time and striking a fine equaliser six minutes after coming on.
Capello concerned by lack of energy
England should have capitalised on their growing momentum to win, but Darren Bent failed to reproduce the finishing touches that have brought him goals in three successive appearances. He was blocked by Diego Benaglio when he was played in by Wilshere then blazed over the top of an open goal late on after Young's shot was saved by Switzerland's keeper.
Defeat would have been harsh on the Swiss, predictably well-organised under the masterly direction of veteran coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, and in midfield man Xherdan Shaqiri they have one of Europe's rising stars.
England have now gone four games without a win at Wembley, their longest sequence without a victory in 30 years, and still have much work to do to reach Euro 2012 as they prepare for a testing trip to face Bulgaria in Sofia in September.
Capello watched in frustration as England defended poorly and failed to provide any ammunition or support for Bent until after the break - but he was the architect of his own problems.
The selection of James Milner ahead of Young was the product of muddled thinking and the absence of Peter Crouch - with 22 goals in 42 England appearances - from even the substitutes' bench was also a surprise.
Milner and Theo Walcott failed to justify their selection ahead of Aston Villa's Young as they struggled ineffectually in the first half, leaving striker Bent isolated and starved of supply as Switzerland looked the more composed and ordered team.
“Capello's choice of Milner ahead of Young was close to inexplicable but smacked of unnecessary caution”
Glen Johnson almost gave England the perfect start after only two minutes when he met Lampard's corner at the far post but Switzerland keeper Benaglio spread himself to make the block.
Hart's eventful half started when he saved smartly from Eren Derdiyok then scrambled to turn away Gokhan Inler's shot after it took a deflection off the outstretched leg of the recalled Rio Ferdinand.
England's keeper was by far the busier and he was in action again to save from the industrious and intelligent Shaqiri as Switzerland grew in confidence.
Ferdinand's header was narrowly off target before Switzerland stunned Wembley with two goals in three minutes just after the half-hour to take command in a fashion that visibly infuriated Capello as he stood in his technical area.
Capello had just been forced to replace Ashley Cole, injured in an early tackle on Valon Behrami, with Leighton Baines and the Everton defender could only watch as his defensive colleagues handed the initiative to the Swiss.
Barnetta was the goalscorer on both occasions - with England twice demonstrating a costly inability to deal with routine free-kicks into their penalty area. The first was floated in and missed by Ferdinand, wrong-footing Hart as it landed in the far corner.
The second was even more calamitous, with the wall formed by Walcott and Milner breaking hopelessly and Hart reduced to an awkward attempt to kick Barnetta's effort away from his near post, an effort that ended in embarrassing failure.
England were desperate for a lifeline before the interval and Djourou provided it after 37 minutes with a lunge at Arsenal team-mate Wilshere that resulted in a penalty, converted by Lampard.
Wembley reacted with jeers at half-time - and Capello's response was to replace Lampard with Young. The switch was rewarded within six minutes as Baines cleverly chested a chipped pass into Young's path and set up a low angled finish past Benaglio.
England's shape looked more comfortable and they were now in charge. Wilshere's wonderful run and pass sent Bent clear, but Benaglio plunged bravely at his feet to save.
Bent, so reliable in front of goal for England in recent games, was then guilty of an awful miss as he threw away the opportunity to complete the comeback with 20 minutes left. The lively Young's shot was saved by Benaglio to leave Bent with what looked like a formality in front of an open goal, but he side-footed his finish over the bar with the Swiss keeper stranded.
Young's second-half show only highlighted Capello's errors in selection and he almost got his second when he reached Milner's pull back, but could not trouble Benaglio.
As the game entered three minutes of stoppage time, both sides almost snatched the win. Substitute Admir Mehmedi was inches away with Hart beaten and Stewart Downing, on for Walcott, shot weakly into the side-netting with the last kick of the game as England had to settle for a point.
While they were disappointed with the result, the home team's prospects of qualification were boosted later on Saturday as Montenegro, England's main rivals for top spot in Group G, drew 1-1 against Bulgaria in Podgorica, ensuring Capello's men
stay ahead on goal difference
Shot from close range by Stewart Downing misses to the right of the goal.
Corner taken left-footed by Leighton Baines to the near post, Johan Djourou makes a clearance.
James Milner fouled by Innocent Emeghara, the ref awards a free kick. James Milner takes the direct free kick.
Admir Mehmedi produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the target.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on James Milner by Granit Xhaka. Scott Parker takes the free kick.
Substitution (Switzerland) makes a substitution, with Innocent Emeghara coming on for Tranquillo Barnetta.
The free kick is swung in left-footed by Xherdan Shaqiri.
Rio Ferdinand challenges Admir Mehmedi unfairly and gives away a free kick.
Xherdan Shaqiri crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right by-line.
Booking Rio Ferdinand goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Admir Mehmedi by Rio Ferdinand.
Admir Mehmedi gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Glen Johnson. John Terry takes the free kick.
Corner from the right by-line taken by Xherdan Shaqiri, save by Joe Hart.
Corner taken by Xherdan Shaqiri played to the near post, clearance made by James Milner.
Gokhan Inler has an effort at goal from 30 yards. Blocked by Scott Parker.
Free kick awarded for a foul by John Terry on Granit Xhaka. Blerim Dzemaili restarts play with the free kick.
Ashley Young takes a shot from close range clearing the crossbar.
Foul by Tranquillo Barnetta on Jack Wilshere, free kick awarded. Joe Hart takes the direct free kick.
Gokhan Inler takes a shot.
Substitution Stewart Downing comes on in place of Theo Walcott.
Admir Mehmedi challenges Rio Ferdinand unfairly and gives away a free kick. Joe Hart restarts play with the free kick.
Substitution Eren Derdiyok leaves the field to be replaced by Admir Mehmedi.
Ashley Young takes a shot. Save by Diego Benaglio. Close range effort by Darren Bent clears the crossbar.
The ball is crossed by Stephan Lichtsteiner, clearance by John Terry.
Ashley Young takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the crossbar.
Corner taken by James Milner from the left by-line played to the near post, Philippe Senderos makes a clearance.
Granit Xhaka takes a shot. Blocked by Rio Ferdinand. Free kick awarded for a foul by Gokhan Inler on Theo Walcott. Rio Ferdinand takes the free kick.
Darren Bent takes a shot. Save by Diego Benaglio.
Philippe Senderos restarts play with the free kick.
Booking Jack Wilshere booked.
Tranquillo Barnetta fouled by Jack Wilshere, the ref awards a free kick.
Xherdan Shaqiri takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
Effort from outside the penalty box by Blerim Dzemaili goes wide left of the goal.
Ashley Young takes a shot. Johan Djourou gets a block in.
James Milner decides to take a short corner.
The ball is crossed by Leighton Baines, clearance by Johan Djourou.
Centre by Ashley Young.
Substitution Blerim Dzemaili on for Valon Behrami.
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Ashley Young.
Xherdan Shaqiri takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
Xherdan Shaqiri takes a shot. Blocked by Scott Parker.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Rio Ferdinand on Granit Xhaka. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Xherdan Shaqiri from right channel, Joe Hart makes a save.
Assist by Leighton Baines.
50:07 Goal scored
Goal - Ashley Young - England 2 - 2 Switzerl'd Ashley Young scores a goal from just inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. England 2-2 Switzerland.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Philippe Senderos on Ashley Young. Scott Parker takes the direct free kick.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Glen Johnson on Tranquillo Barnetta. Reto Ziegler restarts play with the free kick.
The second half begins.
Substitution Frank Lampard leaves the field to be replaced by Ashley Young.
45:00 +1:04 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.
Frank Lampard shoots direct from the free kick.
Booking Valon Behrami is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Valon Behrami on James Milner.
The ball is delivered by Reto Ziegler, Rio Ferdinand manages to make a clearance.
The assistant referee flags for offside against Darren Bent. Diego Benaglio takes the indirect free kick.
Stephan Lichtsteiner concedes a free kick for a foul on Leighton Baines. The ball is crossed by James Milner, Darren Bent has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide right of the target.
Jack Wilshere provided the assist for the goal.
36:25 Goal scored
Goal - Frank Lampard - England 1 - 2 Switzerl'd Penalty taken right-footed by Frank Lampard and scored. England 1-2 Switzerland.
Booking Caution for Johan Djourou.
Unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere by Johan Djourou results in a Penalty.
Jack Wilshere takes a shot. Johan Djourou gets a block in.
34:14 Goal scored
Goal - Tranquillo Barnetta - England 0 - 2 Switzerl'd Tranquillo Barnetta hits the back of the net with a goal direct from the free kick from just outside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. England 0-2 Switzerland.
Unfair challenge on Reto Ziegler by Scott Parker results in a free kick.
Glen Johnson challenges Reto Ziegler unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Diego Benaglio.
31:39 Goal scored
Goal - Tranquillo Barnetta - England 0 - 1 Switzerl'd Tranquillo Barnetta finds the back of the net with a goal from outside the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. England 0-1 Switzerland.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Tranquillo Barnetta by Frank Lampard. Tranquillo Barnetta crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel,
Substitution Leighton Baines joins the action as a substitute, replacing Ashley Cole.
Valon Behrami gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere. John Terry takes the direct free kick.
Header from deep inside the area by Rio Ferdinand goes harmlessly over the crossbar.
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Frank Lampard from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Eren Derdiyok.
Scott Parker sends in a cross, Close range header by James Milner goes wide of the left-hand post.
Foul by James Milner on Stephan Lichtsteiner, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Diego Benaglio.
Xherdan Shaqiri gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ashley Cole. Joe Hart takes the direct free kick.
Free kick awarded for a foul by James Milner on Stephan Lichtsteiner. Free kick taken by Diego Benaglio.
Long range effort from Gokhan Inler misses to the left of the goal.
Tranquillo Barnetta takes a shot. Rio Ferdinand gets a block in. Xherdan Shaqiri takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Granit Xhaka on Scott Parker. Jack Wilshere takes the direct free kick.
Darren Bent is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Diego Benaglio.
Effort on goal by Eren Derdiyok from inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.
Jack Wilshere concedes a free kick for a foul on Stephan Lichtsteiner. Xherdan Shaqiri crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance by Rio Ferdinand.
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Frank Lampard from the left by-line, clearance made by Philippe Senderos.
Eren Derdiyok is caught offside. Joe Hart takes the free kick.
Gokhan Inler takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.
Darren Bent is adjudged to have handled the ball. Free kick taken by Diego Benaglio.
Eren Derdiyok takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
The referee blows for offside against James Milner. Diego Benaglio takes the indirect free kick.
Unfair challenge on Theo Walcott by Reto Ziegler results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Joe Hart.
Corner taken right-footed by Frank Lampard from the left by-line, Glen Johnson takes a shot. Save made by Diego Benaglio.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Granit Xhaka on Glen Johnson. Frank Lampard takes the direct free kick.
The game gets underway.
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