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Welbeck’s road brace put England on strong Euro 2016 qualifying start

Switzerland England Euro Soccer

England’s forward Danny Welbeck celebrates after scoring the first goal, during their Euro 2016 qualifying match against Switzerland, at the St. Jakob-Park stadium, in Basel, Switzerland, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Keystone, Peter Klaunzer)

AP

In what was an inspiring day for England -- and Arsenal -- fans, as well as a step in the right direction for the Three Lions, Danny Welbeck scored a brace to lead Roy Hodgson’s side past Switzerland 2-0 in Basel.

The match was England’s first of any consequence since being classed out of the World Cup in the group stage, but their first steps toward Euro 2016 were positive. England went stride for stride with a talented Swiss side before breaking out with two second half goals.

[ MORE: Cesc Fabregas reveals his love for former club Arsenal ]

There were redemptive moments all around, and goalkeeper Joe Hart was certainly feeling good after a brave left leg save on Xherdan Shaqiri that kept the match scoreless just before halftime.

Welbeck broke through in the 58th minute from close range after a neat bit of work between Wayne Rooney and Raheem Stirling. There was in-game redemption there for Stirling, who bungled two strong chances to score in the first 45 minutes.

Rickie Lambert was the playmaker for Welbeck’s second, and Arsenal fans have to be grinning ear-to-ear after their new striker provided plenty of positives.

Switzerland were considered the prime rival to England winning the group, while some speculated that Slovenia could trump Three Lions for second place. But everything came up Hodgson on the day, as Estonia handed Slovenia a 1-0 loss.

In Group E’s other match, Lithuania went into San Marino and came away 2-0 winners.

Follow @nicholasmendola