After a 30 year wait to host another major tournament, football finally came home on June 8th, 1996, as Terry Venables’ England side hosted Switzerland at Wembley.
England kicked off their campaign under enormous pressure, following years of underachievement and a highly-scrutinised pre-tournament jolly in Hong Kong.
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Despite the pressure, England started the opener brightly, and, buoyed by a raucous crowd, created many chances – albeit low-probability opportunities.
Switzerland did have threatening moments on the counter-attack but succumbed to the game’s first decisive moment.
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Shearer’s Struggles End
Alan Shearer entered the tournament in dire form for the Three Lions, failing to score for the national team in a 12-game goal drought, which spanned back to September 1994.
In the 23rd minute, Shearer quickly put his international baron spell behind him, converting a 37% chance with absolute authority after latching on to an excellent Paul Ince reverse through ball.
The goal initially looked to have settled England, who continued to pepper the Swiss with long-ranged efforts, but Switzerland responded.
Kubilay Türkyilmaz turned Stuart Pearce with ease on the right byline approaching the break, creating space to square the ball across the six-yard box. With Davis Seaman stranded, Marco Grassi faced a simple task after finding space between two defenders – dispatching the cross into an empty net. Grassi squandered the huge chance (57%) to equalise, hitting the bar from just a few yards out.
England then had an opportunity to double their first half lead. Stuart Pearce’s whipped free kick towards the back post found Teddy Sheringham, but his free header (35%) was smartly saved.
Half Time. England 1-0 Switzerland
After Shearer attempted two speculative efforts early in the second half (both 3%), Switzerland dominated proceedings, limiting England to zero shots in the next 30 minutes.
The Swiss threatened the hosts throughout that period of play, culminating in a fully deserved 83rd minute equaliser.
A long ball into the England box fell to Grassi, whose shot was blocked by Pearce’s raised arm, resulting in an obvious penalty. Türkyilmaz – Switzerland’s chief threat – assumed responsibility, tucking the spot kick (77%) away in impressive fashion.
Ince forced a good save from a long-range volley (3%) soon after, but England were unable to find a winner, creating a measly 0.12 xG in the second half (Switzerland 1.14 xG).
England escape with a point. Full Time. England (1.32 xG) 1 – 1 (1.85 xG) Switzerland.
After a promising start, England’s campaign opened with a tense, nervy and disappointing 1-1 draw against Group A underdogs Switzerland.
Euro 96 Group A pre-tournament odds: 10/11 Netherlands, 13/8 England, 9/1, Scotland, Switzerland.
A fierce match-up against neighboring rivals Scotland was up next. Could the Three Lions respond?
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