Sports

Resilient England beat Switzerland on penalties to reach Euro 2024 semi-finals

In a thrilling quarter-final match, England secured their place in the Euro 2024 semi-finals by defeating Switzerland 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw following extra time. This victory keeps England’s dream of winning their first major tournament in 58 years alive.

Stalemate Broken by Embolo and Saka

The match, held in Dortmund, saw a tense 120 minutes, with both teams struggling to break the deadlock. Switzerland’s Breel Embolo broke the stalemate in the 75th minute, putting his team ahead.

England’s response came quickly, with Bukayo Saka equalising five minutes later with a spectacular strike from outside the box—England’s first shot on target.

Heroic Penalty Shoot-Out

The penalty shoot-out was a nerve-wracking affair. England’s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford became the hero by saving Switzerland’s first penalty from Manuel Akanji.

Also Read: Spain vs Germany: Dramatic Merino goal sends Spain to Euro 2024 semifinals

England’s penalty-takers—Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney, and Trent Alexander-Arnold—were flawless, converting all their spot-kicks to secure the win. This victory sets up a semi-final clash against either Turkey or the Netherlands.

Strategic Decisions and Key Players

England’s manager, Gareth Southgate, who was celebrating his 100th match in charge, made strategic decisions that paid off. Despite calls for significant changes in personnel, Southgate opted for a back three, bringing Ezri Konsa into the lineup for his first competitive international start. Saka’s position on the right proved to be an inspired choice, as the Arsenal winger was a constant threat, especially in the first half.

Laboured Start and Key Substitutions

The game was largely uneventful for the first 75 minutes, with both sides struggling to create clear chances.

Also Read: France edge Portugal in dramatic penalty shootout to reach Euro 2024 semi-finals

Embolo’s goal came as a wake-up call for England, prompting Southgate to make crucial substitutions. Palmer, Eberechi Eze, and Luke Shaw were brought on, and their impact was immediate.

Saka’s equaliser rejuvenated England, and despite some close calls in extra time, including a brilliant save by Switzerland’s Yann Sommer and a scare from a Xherdan Shaqiri corner, England held their nerve.

Reactions from Key Figures

Reflecting on the match, Southgate praised his team’s resilience and character. “Winning tournaments isn’t just about playing well—it’s about showing character and resilience, and we did that today,” he said.

Captain Harry Kane echoed these sentiments, highlighting the team’s ability to bounce back from adversity. “Another tough game, great resilience from the lads… Fantastic finish from B (Saka), he deserves that,” Kane remarked.

Jude Bellingham and Trent Alexander-Arnold also expressed their pride in the team’s performance. Bellingham described it as “probably our best performance of the tournament,” while Alexander-Arnold emphasised the team’s determination: “Whatever it takes, no matter what, we win.”

Saka’s Redemption

Bukayo Saka, who had faced heartbreak in the Euro 2020 final, redeemed himself with a stellar performance.

“I’m proud of myself… To come back from something like that was really difficult but I used it to make me stronger,” Saka said.

Looking Ahead to the Semi-Finals

England now looks forward to their semi-final match, carrying the hopes of a nation and a renewed sense of belief. As Saka aptly put it, “I think it shows how much we want to win this tournament. The last two games we’ve been 1-0 down in the later stages and we’ve come back.”

Samuel Bolaji

Samuel Bolaji holds a Master of Letters in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. He is an experienced researcher, multimedia journalist, writer, and Editor. He is currently the Editor of Arbiterz.

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