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England 2-1 Switzerland
Harry Kane moved a step closer to becoming England’s all-time top goalscorer after his second-half penalty completed the Three Lions come back as Switzerland were edged out in a well-contested International friendly at Wembley Stadium.
So often seen as meaningless fixtures, under Gareth Southgate England’s warm-up matches have provided more interest for the audience as he looks to create a group advancing upon a World Cup semi-final and Euro 2020 final appearances.
“Every England game is important and there’s a great opportunity for the three who are making their full debut and for the rest of the team to keep that cohesion and to keep building on what we’ve done over the last two to three years,” he explained
Kyle Walker-Peters, Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell found themselves involved in a Three Lions squad for the first time, the latter on the bench: “There’s got to be a realistic expectation of how far their development is and what they might provide in the immediate term and then what they might provide over a longer distance,” The England chief added.
Opening exchanges suggested something of a slow burner. Switzerland, neat, tidy and organised enjoyed plenty of the ball, while Conor Gallagher came close to an opening goal for England. The Crystal Palace loanee saw his curling effort headed to safety after skipper, Harry Kane had carved out an opening.
Switzerland continued to look the better equipt. Jordan Pickford stuck out a glove to deny Granit Xhaka. Then with their next foray forward, Breel Embolo firmly headed Xherdan Shaqiri’s centre beyond the Everton stopper to hand the visitors a deserved lead.
Fabian Frei sent a thundering attempt against an upright as the Swiss turned the screw and England wobbled alarmingly. The home side rallied. Walker-Peters struck the woodwork after Phil Foden had unselfishly squared.
Nevertheless, England were all at sea. Their goal leading a charmed life. Embolo dragged wide after Richardo Rodríguez had forced Pickford into another flying save.
But having been outplayed for most of the half, incredibly, England found their way back into the contest in first-half stoppage-time.
Gallagher found Luke Shaw after some hesitant Swiss defending had been exposed. The Manchester United man drilling passed Jonas Omlin with a fierce left-footed drive from eighteen yards.
Omlin saved from Kane following a delightful ball from the impressive Gallagher as England returned with a flea in their ear.
A plethron of substitutions from both sides on the hour affected the rhythm of the game. Kane sent another headed attempt directly at Omlin, while Ben White fired over as England continued to gain momentum.
And with twelve minutes remaining, England forged ahead. VAR invited Swedish whistler, Andreas Ekberg to have another look after Steven Zuber appeared to handle Kane’s goalbound header. The Tottenham frontman didn’t need a second invitation to rattle home the resulting spot-kick and draw level with Bobby Charlton on 49 England goals, just four behind Wayne Rooney at the top of the pile.
England return to action on Tuesday, March 29 when Côte d’Ivoire visits Wembley Stadium for an International friendly match (8pm).
England: Pickford, Stones, Coady, Guéhi, Walker-Peters (Sterling 62′), Henderson, Gallagher (Rice 62′), Shaw (Mitchell 62′), Foden (Bellingham 80′), Mount (Grealish 62′), Kane (Watkins 89′) Subs not used: Maguire, Pope (GK), White, Mings, Ward-Prowse, Forster (GK)
Goals: Luke Shaw 45+1′, Harry Kane (penalty) 78′
Switzerland: Omlin, Widmer (Mbabu 36′), Akanji, Frei, Rodríguez, Freuler (Zuber 62′), Xhaka, Steffen (Zeqiri 62′), Shaqiri (Aebischer 80′), Vargas (Sow 62′), Embolo (Gavranovic 80′) Subs not used: von Ballmoos, Elvedi, Okafor, Lotomba, Cömert, Kobel
Goals: Breel Embolo 22′
Referee: Andreas Ekberg (Sweden)
Assistants: Mehmet Culum and Fredrik Klyver (both Sweden)
Fourth Official: Bojan Pandzic (Belgium)
VAR: Alexandre Boucaut (Belgium)
Assistant VAR: Christof Dierick (Belgium)