Switzerland 0-2 England: Five talking points

Sports Mole picks out five talking points to come out from England's 2-0 victory away in Switzerland last night.

Following a disappointing World Cup, England returned to competitive action last night as they opened up their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in Switzerland.

The encounter in Basel was viewed, on paper, as England's toughest fixture of the group phase. Yet, two second-half goals from Danny Welbeck sealed a 2-0 victory for Roy Hodgson's side.

Here, Sports Mole has picked out five of the biggest talking points to have arisen from the fixture.


1. Rapid Sterling fast becoming England's key player

Raheem Sterling of England shoots past Stephan Lichtsteiner (2) and Valon Behrami of Switzerland (11) during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E qualifying match between Switzerland and England at St Jakob-Park on September 8, 2014© Getty Images

In terms of his club football, Raheem Sterling has started the new Premier League season in similar fashion to how he ended the previous one. With Luis Suarez no longer present, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has had no hesitation in making 19-year-old Sterling his side's focal point.

Last night, Sterling was equally important to England. He had a helping hand in both goals, with his pace proving to be a real menace to the Switzerland rearguard, particularly during the closing stages when the hosts were pushing hard for an equalising goal. The teenager is quickly becoming England's most effective player, if he's not already.


2. Welbeck brace excites Arsenal

Danny Welbeck of England shoots past goalkeeper Yann Sommer of Switzerland to score their first goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E qualifying match between Switzerland and England at St Jakob-Park on September 8, 2014© Getty Images

Few members of the current Three Lions squad divide opinion as much as Arsenal's latest signing. In truth, the 23-year-old is not as good as his supporters would have you believe, nor is he as bad as his detractors try to make out. Of course, the main accusation often aimed at the former Manchester United frontman is that he is not a natural goalscorer.

It's been a cause of concern for some Arsenal supporters, but those fears may have been allayed by their new signing's performance in Basel. It will not just be the fact that he scored two goals that has caused the excitement, but also the type of finishes. The first was a poacher's effort from close range, while the second required good composure in second-half stoppage time.


3. Delph recovers from shaky start

Aston Villa player Fabian Delph in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on August 24, 2013© Getty Images

When debutant Fabian Delph was cautioned within the opening 10 minutes for a wild and needless sliding challenge on Stephan Lichtsteiner, there was a major fear that the Aston Villa man could end up being sent for an early bath. After all, so much of his game centres around his ability to cover plenty of ground, while making tackles.

Plenty of credit should go to the 24-year-old, though, because after a nervy start, he produced a display that he can be proud of. He was positive in possession and on occasions got forward well to offer support to the likes of Sterling, Welbeck and captain Wayne Rooney. On another night, he may also have won a penalty after he was challenged by Johan Djourou inside the area.


4. Stubborn Cahill leads defence

England defender Gary Cahill wrestles for possession with Brazilian striker Neymar on February 06, 2013.© Getty Images

It has gone almost unnoticed, but England have not conceded a goal in three games. On occasions last night they had to rely on the agility of goalkeeper Joe Hart, but the rearguard in front of him was marshalled well by Gary Cahill. Often viewed as a centre-back that needs a true leader alongside him to flourish, Cahill used all his experience last night.

His best moment came during the second half when having rounded Hart, Josip Drmic had what appeared to be an open goal at his disposal. However, Cahill refused to accept the inevitable goal and was able to clear the danger with a last ditch sliding clearance.


5. Hodgson tactically sound

England manager Roy Hodgson looks on at the start of the international friendly football match between England and Scotland on August 14, 2013© Getty Images

It cannot have been much fun being Hodgson in recent weeks. His tactics were heavily criticised following England's winless World Cup campaign, while the slender 1-0 victory over Norway last week did little to lift the gloom. The supporters certainly let Hodgson know their feelings, with Wembley only half full for that encounter.

This time, though, the 67-year-old was pretty much faultless where his setup was concerned. Just two players - Jack Wilshere and John Stones - were played out of their natural positions, while using the pace of Sterling and Welbeck on the counter-attack ended up being a fruitful strategy. Other managers may also have been tempted to replace a booked Delph at the break, but Hodgson stuck by the midfielder and was rewarded with a positive display from the new boy.


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Danny Welbeck of England shoots past goalkeeper Yann Sommer of Switzerland to score their first goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E qualifying match between Switzerland and England at St Jakob-Park on September 8, 2014
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