After Sunday's agonising defeat by France, England got their UEFA EURO 2004 show on the road with two Wayne Rooney goals and another from Steven Gerrard, leaving the hopes of Switzerland, reduced to ten men for the last half-hour, hanging by a thread.
At 18 years, seven months and 24 days old, Rooney became the youngest scorer in a UEFA European Championship finals match, surpassing the record of Yugoslavia's Dragan Stojković, who was eight months older when he scored against France in 1984.
Having initially struggled to penetrate a well-organised Swiss outfit, Rooney's opener, midway through the first half, set the pattern for a match that always seemed just beyond Switzerland's grasp. They will now have to beat France to have any hope of reaching the last eight.
As expected, both sides made one change from their opening encounters. John Terry returned to the centre of England's defence after a hamstring injury and Fabio Celestini coming into the Switzerland midfield in place of Johann Vogel, sent off in the 0-0 draw with Croatia.
Set pieces by Swiss playmaker Hakan Yakin caused England problems early on, Sol Campbell twice having to head clear from his own area. Then, after Gerrard had headed over his own bar from another Yakin free-kick, a Stéphane Chapuisat shot cannoned away to safety off Terry after a loose pass by Frank Lampard.
Rooney was cautioned for following through on Swiss goalkeeper Jörg Stiel, chasing a better ball from Lampard, but five minutes later the Everton FC teenager entered the record books. A surging run by Gerrard looked to have been ended by a foul, but he just managed to offload the ball to David Beckham and referee Valentin Ivanov played the advantage. Beckham found Michael Owen at the far post, and he chipped the ball up for his strike partner to head emphatically past Stiel from close range.
Moments later Owen went sprinting through but was stopped in his tracks by Murat Yakin. Switzerland then responded and David James had to race from his line to prevent Chapuisat from scrambling the ball in by the post. Alexander Frei wasted a better chance, heading Christoph Spycher's cross wide.
A couple of Paul Scholes efforts, one just off target, another deflected, reminded Switzerland of the danger of pushing too far forward, as did a ball from Ashley Cole along the six-metre line that beat everyone. The half ended with a Hakan Yakin free-kick sailing just wide of the England goal.
Switzerland coach Jakob Kuhn introduced Daniel Gygax and Ricardo Cabanas early in the second half in an attempt to find more flair in midfield, and Gygax went close with a glancing header almost immediately. Bernt Haas then picked up the first of his two yellow cards for a foul on Gerrard, and on the hour he saw red after upending Cole.
Sven-Göran Eriksson watched as his players failed to take advantage of the situation before bringing on Owen Hargreaves and Darius Vassell. Campbell then flashed a header wide from a Beckham free-kick and soon England doubled their lead. Vassell battled for and won a long ball from Hargreaves before laying it into Rooney's path. A return pass seemed his only option but instead the youngster shot low and hard, the ball rebounded off the post and over the line off the luckless Stiel.
Eight minutes from time England's victory was complete, Gerrard rounding off a straightforward move involving Beckham and Gary Neville, and Rooney then departed to rapturous applause from the happy England fans.