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Thursday, March 26, 1998 Published at 14:17 GMT

Sport: Football

England draw in Swiss snooze
image: [ Switzerland had more pressure but it finished all square ]
Switzerland had more pressure but it finished all square

A dour game in the Swiss capital of Berne was marked by two chances, one scored by the Spurs defender, Ramon Vega, the other converted by the England returner, Paul Merson.

Alan Green reports from the Wankdorf Stadium
The final score of 1-1 was a fair result with neither team producing many chances, but Switzerland will be upset that they did not make more of superior first half pressure.

[ image: Switzerland's Ramon Vega celebrates his goal]
Switzerland's Ramon Vega celebrates his goal
The atmosphere in the Wankdorf Stadium was subdued to say the least. The officials did not contribute positively to the spectacle with incessant calls for offside.

Also, a poor pitch did not help the players. This was shown early on when Michael Owen made ground down the right into a menacing position only to sky a bobbling ball into the crowd.

The rest of the first half was marked with poor passing from both teams. England reverted to long-balls to Alan Shearer who was on his own up front for long periods.

The deadlock was broken when the Tottenham Hotspur defender, Ramon Vega, scored seven minutes before the interval with a glancing header. It was the only incident of any real interest of the entire opening 45 minutes.

A better ten minutes

The second half began in the same low key manner as the opening 45 minutes with neither side posing serious problems for Tim Flowers and his Swiss counterpart Joel Cormindaeus.

Owen sent Shearer into a promising position on the left flank but his cross was easily cut out.

Steve McManaman was again struggling to deliver his club form for his country. The Liverpool star found himself in acres of space on the right flank but delivered a dreadful centre which flew high and wide.

Paul Merson was given a rare chance to run at the Swiss defence but, in keeping with the below par nature of the game, he over-ran the ball and the danger was averted.

With twenty minutes to go, Teddy Sheringham was brought on for Owen but it was Merson who made the difference. Almost immediately Shearer found Merson, after a poor clearance by Cormindaeus, who fired the ball past the keeper to equalise for England.

England's goal brought the game to life for ten minutes. Switzerland had a great a chance when Chapuisat was put through only to be denied by Flowers. Then five minutes later Shearer had a chance of a header stopped by the attentions of the Swiss keeper.

The rest of the game dribbled out to a dour conclusion with both teams appearing content with a draw.

The England coach, Glenn Hoddle said he was pleased with the draw and said it was a fair result. But with England producing so few chances against a team who failed to qualify for France '98, Hoddle must hope for a return to better form soon.

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