England scrape past Switzerland on penalties to reach Euro 2024 semi-finals

Posted Sunday, July 07, 2024 by PA

England scrape past Switzerland on penalties to reach Euro 2024 semi-finals

Jordan Pickford was the shoot-out hero as England kept their Euro 2024 dreams alive by beating Switzerland on penalties to reach the semi-finals.

Three years on from being denied the continental crown on spot-kicks, they had to fight their demons from 12 yards to continue their quest to go one better in Germany.

Bukayo Saka cancelled out Breel Embolo’s opener to take the quarter-final to extra-time and onto penalties after it ended 1-1, with the England star converting to bury the ghosts of his Euro 2020 final miss.

But Pickford was the star as he saved Manuel Akanji’s penalty, with Trent Alexander-Arnold wrapping up a 5-3 triumph to spark bedlam in Dusseldorf and seal a semi-final spot.

It was a dramatic end to an edgy encounter and England’s first shoot-out win since beating the Swiss in the Nations League third-placed play-off five years ago in Portugal.

Pickford was the hero then, just as he was on Saturday night as Gareth Southgate’s 100th match ended with a victory that sets up a Dortmund clash against the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Switzerland stuck with the same side that knocked out holders Italy as Southgate made one enforced change and a big switch in system.

  • Cole Palmer SCORED
  • Manuel Akanji MISSED
  • Jude Bellingham SCORED
  • Fabian Schar SCORED
  • Bukayo Saka SCORED
  • Xherdan Shaqiri SCORED
  • Ivan Toney SCORED
  • Zeki Amdouni SCORED
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold SCORED

Ezri Konsa replaced suspended centre-back Marc Guehi and formed part of a back three, with eyebrows raised at the decision to deploy Saka as right wing-back rather than on the opposite side.

The tweaks left England a little more open, meaning some early interventions from the likes of Konsa and Kobbie Mainoo were required, but more threatening on the ball.

Southgate’s side made an encouraging start with crisper passing and better pressing than previous matches as Declan Rice and Mainoo saw shots blocked.

England scrape past Switzerland on penalties to reach Euro 2024 semi-finals
Breel Embolo (second top left) gave Switzerland the lead (Nick Potts/PA)

Phil Foden roamed more effectively and Jude Bellingham – cleared to play after making a gesture after scoring against Slovakia – probed, with Saka giving Michel Aebischer a torrid time.

His lively dart into the box just before the break led to Mainoo being denied by a great Granit Xhaka tackle.

The half ended without stoppage time or a shot on target from either side but within six minutes of the restart Embolo got a shot on Jordan Pickford’s goal.

The Swiss striker saw a headed effort blocked by Konsa as Murat Yakin’s improved side threatened with increased regularity as they attacked their bouncing sea of red.

England fans turned up the volume in response, only to be silenced in the 75th minute.

England scrape past Switzerland on penalties to reach Euro 2024 semi-finals
Southgate (left) again left his subs until late in the game (Adam Davy/PA)

A smart Swiss passing move saw Newcastle’s Fabian Schar slip in Dan Ndoye to send a low cross that John Stones could only help onto the far post, where Embolo held off Kyle Walker to score.

The England boss immediately brought on Cole Palmer, Eberechi Eze and Luke Shaw – making his first appearance since mid-February – after a goal rocked that England but did not shake their spirit.

Just five minutes after falling behind, Saka confidently cut in from the right and arrowed a low left-footed shot from the edge of the box that beat Yann Sommer, coming off the inside of the far post, and sparked celebrations across the land.

The feeling was as much of relief as joy but there was still an anxious moment as a superb Schar cross was taken off the head of Ndoye by Embolo with an open goal gaping.

Rice went agonisingly close to putting England ahead five minutes into the first period of extra time, hitting a brilliant 25-yarder that Sommer tipped wide.

England scrape past Switzerland on penalties to reach Euro 2024 semi-finals
The Prince of Wales (centre) celebrates England winning the penalty shoot-out (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Swiss goalkeeper plucked a Bellingham curler out of the air and Southgate replaced skipper Kane with Ivan Toney shortly after he was bundled into the dugout.

England were being forced back and Xherdan Shaqiri sent an audacious whipped direct effort from a corner onto the crossbar in the 117th minute.

Pickford stopped a Zeki Amdouni shot and a stretching Silvan Widmer turned over as England lived dangerously.

Toney was bundled over in the box but there was no penalty, just a shoot-out.

Spot-kick king Cole Palmer beat Sommer to set the tone before Pickford stopped Manchester City defender Akanji low to his left.

Every other penalty taker scored, most notably Saka, and substitute Alexander-Arnold’s effort sent the hordes in white wild.

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