Glenn Lavery in Switzerland
Thursday, 16 September, 2010
England see off Swiss to book their place at 2011 World Cup Finals.
On a dramatic night in Wohlen, England booked their place at next year's FIFA Women's World Cup after defeating Switzerland 3-2 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate.
The victory was effectively secured by half-time after 45 minutes that had everything: three goals, a penalty, and a shocking red card for England goalkeeper Rachel Brown.
After missing a ninth-minute penalty and later hitting the bar, Kelly Smith put England ahead from close range on 32 minutes and Eniola Aluko doubled this lead just three minutes later.
Ramona Bachmann halved the deficit just before the break but quickly proceeded to get Brown sent off with some distasteful play-acting when she tried to claim the ball from the net.
However, ten-player England rallied after the interval and within five minutes of the restart a Fara Williams penalty had restored their four-goal aggregate advantage.
Selina Zumbuhl did convert a cracking 30-yard free-kick on 64 minutes, but it was not enough for the hosts and England can now look forward to spending their summer in Germany next year.
The first real opportunity of the game fell to Aluko, who saw her snap shot saved well by Marisa Brunner following a Williams free-kick.
Fresh from breaking England's goalscoring record in the first leg, Smith was presented with a glorious chance to increase her tally and score a crucial, early away goal when she was felled inside the box by Rahel Graf, but she failed to calm English nerves by dragging her penalty wide of the post.
She almost made amends in sumptuous style, though, when she chipped a delicious 30-yard effort goalwards. Brunner was beaten but the crossbar came to her aid for the third time in this tie.
England were dominating early on, without getting the goal their play merited and Zumbuhl almost made them pay after 20 minutes when she cut in from the right and went for the near post, but Brown got down well and turned the ball behind for a corner.
Suddenly Switzerland came to life and tested the England backline with a succession of direct runs through the middle which won them a few free-kicks in dangerous areas, all of which they wasted.
However, the visitors weathered the storm and were soon back on top, and they virtually ended the tie as a contest when Smith tapped home Alex Scott's low cross from close range after 32 minutes. Switzerland now had to score four to progress.
If further confirmation was needed, Aluko finished off a wonderful move just two minutes later, which effectively booked England's place on the plane.
Williams played a delightful right to left crossfield ball to Aluko, who found Smith in-field and carried on her run into the box. Smith returned the ball to Aluko and the Atlanta Beat forward took it in her stride before lashing home with her right foot. Switzerland now needed five.
That might have been game over but it certainly wasn't the end of the drama.
First, Bachmann pulled a goal back by running across the box and shooting back across goal, the ball creeping over the line before Alex Scott could clear.
But then the goalscorer was guilty of a disgraceful act of cheating. She went to fetch the ball from the net and as Brown lightly brushed away Bachmann's torso, the Swiss forward clutched her face in anguish. Referee Cristina Dorcioman reached for her back pocket and sent the shocked England 'keeper off.
Siobhan Chamberlain came on for Aluko and England re-shuffled to a 4-4-1 formation with Jill Scott wide right and Rachel Yankey wide left.
If that goal - and red card - had temporarily raised Swiss spirits, all thoughts of a hugely unlikely comeback were finally extinguished by Williams' 50th-minute penalty. Smith was the player who was brought down again but she had relinquished spot-kick duties to England's No.8 and the midfielder confidently despatched the ball past Brunner.
The game then proceeded to ebb and flow without any real pattern to it, but Zumbuhl breathed life into it once more with an exquisite 30-yard free-kick, her left-foot curler giving Chamberlain no chance and finding the top right-hand corner of the net.
A Switzerland corner clipped the top of Chamberlain's bar and Katie Chapman might have done better than head substitute Jess Clarke's cross straight at Brunner, but an absorbing game had long been over and England now have nine months to prepare for the World Cup.