Capello off to a winning start

England improved dramatically as the match progressed to give Italian Fabio Capello a winning start as coach with a 2-1 victory over Switzerland in a friendly international at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.

Midfielder Jermaine Jenas scored his first England 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 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 58 minutes.

That goal came one minute after Capello substituted Cole and Jenas for Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips, but England regained the lead four minutes later with a move started and finished by Crouch and Wright-Phillips.

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 an easy chance in front of an empty net.

Capello told a news conference: ”I must say we were quite nervous at the start, worried obviously.

”We still have in the back of our minds the failure to qualify for Euro 2008, but in the second half we created a lot of scoring chances but didn’t take them because the Swiss had a good goalkeeper. We didn’t let them have many scoring chances though.”

Swiss manager Koebi Kuhn added: ”We are not proud of losing but I was pleased with the way we played and faced up to the English.”

Deserved lead

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.

However, the home side improved as the match wore on and went close to adding at least three more goals early in the second half.

Hakan Yakin and Gelson Fernandes were not entirely overshadowed in the Swiss midfield but the visitors looked more dangerous before the break.

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

England, with eight changes to the side that lost 3-2 to Croatia in Steve McClaren’s last match in charge in November, took control of midfield with Rooney coming back to battle for every ball and almost scoring three times.

Crouch also went close to a goal with a well-struck volley that goalkeeper Diego Benaglio saved well.

But the Swiss defence was twice punished for lapses that must be eliminated for them to make any impression in Euro 2008.

Cole, who minutes earlier had a shot from the edge of the box saved by Benaglio, jinked past defender Stephan Lichsteiner and pulled back a perfect 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 to leave Capello smiling at the end.

Asked why Michael Owen, who has scored 40 times for England in his 80 appearances, was left on the bench, Capello replied: ”He is part of the squad and part of my plans, and I made the changes because of what I could see happening on the pitch.” – Reuters

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