gtag('config', 'UA-12595121-1'); England beats Switzerland in a penalty shootout to reach Euro 2024 semifinals – The Zimbabwe Mail

England beats Switzerland in a penalty shootout to reach Euro 2024 semifinals

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DUESSELDORF, Germany — England added another dramatic chapter to its history with penalty shootouts by defeating Switzerland 5-3 in a shootout to reach the semifinals of Euro 2024.

Trent Alexander-Arnold scored the decisive penalty, blasting the ball into the top corner, after a 1-1 draw in extra time on Saturday. “The team showed a lot of character, a lot of belief, heart, and spirit out there,” Alexander-Arnold told the BBC. “We knew it was going to be tight but whatever it takes, no matter what, we win and that’s all that matters.”

England manager Gareth Southgate praised Alexander-Arnold, who had been benched for England’s first two Euro 2024 games. “He could have easily thought his tournament was done,” Southgate said. “I kept talking to him. He’s going to have moments; there’s still a big part to play.”

Bukayo Saka, who had missed a crucial penalty in the 2021 final and faced racial abuse afterward, also stepped up and scored, redeeming himself. The 22-year-old had earlier equalized to ensure the game went to extra time. Other successful penalty takers included Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, and Ivan Toney, who returned from an eight-month ban for breaching betting rules in January.

England took the lead in the shootout after goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved Manuel Akanji’s penalty, Switzerland’s first.

Southgate, whose own England career was marked by a semifinal shootout miss against Germany in the 1996 European Championship, has seen significant improvement in his team’s shootout performance. Since becoming manager in 2016, England has won three of four shootouts under his leadership, although they lost the crucial one in the 2021 final.

England will face either Turkey or the Netherlands in Dortmund on Wednesday for a spot in the final. Switzerland, which has never reached the semifinals of a major tournament, exited on penalties in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive tournament, having lost to Spain three years ago. “I’m really sad for the players,” coach Murat Yakin said.

England’s victory came after a late equalizer from Saka, whose shot off the post in the 80th minute canceled out Breel Embolo’s goal for Switzerland five minutes earlier. The match, otherwise cagey and cautious, saw England’s first shot on target come from Saka’s effort.

The team’s conservative tactics have faced criticism from fans, including some who threw plastic cups at Southgate after a 0-0 group stage draw with Slovenia. “When it’s as personal as it’s been in the last few weeks, on a human level it’s quite difficult,” Southgate said, defending England’s “streetwise” approach to winning games.

Switzerland had better chances to win in extra time, with Xherdan Shaqiri hitting the post directly from a corner and Zeki Amdouni forcing a save from Pickford in the 119th minute.

England was without captain Harry Kane for the shootout after he collided with Southgate on the touchline and appeared to be hurt. Kane, who had cramp, was replaced by Toney.

Southgate, in charge of his 100th game, has now led England to at least the semifinals in three of the four major tournaments under his watch. “We’ve never been to a final outside of England, we’ve never won a Euros,” Southgate said. “So there’s two bits of history we’d like to create.”

Source: AP