Euro 2024: Pickford and Saka lead England past Switzerland via penalties into semifinals

Dusseldorf: Jordan Pickford saved Manuel Akanji’s spot-kick as England edged out a resilient Switzerland 5-3 in penalties to reach the semifinals of UEFA Euro 2024. Pickford was the shoot-out hero as England came through a stiff examination by Switzerland and reached the last-four stage.

There was royalty in the crowd in Dusseldorf Arena but on the pitch, it was initially more workmanlike, with both sides industriously keeping their shape and probing cautiously. England settled into their task and their impressive attacking arsenal all fired shots across the bow. Switzerland stood firm, holding them goalless through the first half.

It was 51 minutes before the first shot on target. When it came, the surprise was that it was for the team in red as Breel Embolo’s effort was gathered easily by Pickford. Suddenly the Swiss supporters raised their levels and the Nati responded in kind -– with 15 minutes to go the noise of cowbells was through the roof as Embolo poked in Dan Ndoye’s deflected cross.

For the second successive knockout fixture England were behind. Gareth Southgate responded immediately with a triple substitution and within five minutes it was back to all-square as Bukayo Saka curled in a wonderful goal. Now, as the third quarter-final at Euro 2024 went to extra time, it was end to end -– that early caution was unceremoniously thrown to the wind.

Yann Sommer was the busier keeper, denying Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, but it was Xhedran Shaqiri who came closest to a winner, hitting the post directly from a corner. On to the shoot-out. Pickford denied Akanji and England were impeccable, Saka among the scorers before late replacement Trent Alexander-Arnold sealed a date in Dortmund.


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