England’s women have qualified for next year’s World Cup finals in Germany after beating Switzerland 3-2 in a game high on drama and incident.
England took a 2-0 first leg lead to Wohlen after victory at Shrewsbury’s Greenhous Meadow, and virtually wrapped up the tie after an exciting first half spectacle that saw three goals, a red card and a missed penalty.
Kelly Smith provided the game’s first major talking point. Smith, who broke the England Women’s goalscoring record with a goal in the first leg, missed a penalty early on but made amends by handing England the lead after 32 minutes.
An action-packed 10 minutes then ensued involving a goal for either side and a sending off.
Two minutes after Smith’s opener Eniola Aluko put England 2-0 up, finishing off a lovely move involving Smith and Fara Williams.
Switzerland’s Ramona Bachmann then gave the hosts a glimmer of hope with a goal in the 41st minute, before a moment of controversy resulted in a red card.
Having made it 2-1, Bachmann ran to collect the ball from the net eager to restart play. In the ensuing commotion, England keeper Rachel Brown was sent off for pushing Bachmann who fell over clutching her face in agony.
Bachmann’s histrionics left England with 10 women and manager Hope Powell made an immediate substitution, replacing Aluko with Siobhan Chamberlain and switching to a 4-4-1 formation.
The sending off had little immediate impact on England however. If anything they improved. Five minutes after half-time England won another penalty when Switzerland’s Noemie Beney was adjudged to have fouled Smith in the box.
Smith handed spot-kick duties to Williams this time, and the Everton midfielder slotted home to make it 3-1 on the day and 5-1 on aggregate.
Selina Zumbuhl’s 65th minute strike reduced the deficit to 3-2, but it was too little too late for the Swiss in Wohlen. England will play in the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
By Jonathan Fadugbacomments