Euro 2020: Spain Beat Switzerland On Penalty To Reach Semi Final
According to iexclusive News Nigeria, goalkeeper Unai Simon was the hero as Spain defeated 10-man Switzerland 3-1 on penalties on Friday, advancing to a Euro 2020 semi-final against either Belgium or Italy.
Following a 1-1 draw in Saint Petersburg that saw the Swiss play for 43 minutes with a man down, Simon made two saves in the shootout to ensure Spain’s pursuit for a record fourth European title remain alive.
It was heartbreaking for Switzerland, which was attempting to reach the semi-finals of a major event for the first time in its history.
Spain took the lead early on when Denis Zakaria punched through his own net, but Switzerland were the better team for extended stretches and Xherdan Shaqiri, who was captaining in place of the suspended Granit Xhaka, leveled in the 68th minute.
However, with 13 minutes remaining, the Swiss were reduced to ten men as midfielder Remo Freuler was controversially sent off for a hit on Gerard Moreno.
Yann Sommer, the hero of Switzerland’s penalty shootout victory against world champions France in the last 16, made a run of great saves in extra time.
However, Simon saved from Fabian Schaer and Manuel Akanji, while Ruben Vargas blasted over in a tight conclusion as Spain snuck through, with Mikel Oyarzabal thumping home the winning penalty.
Luis Enrique’s side will face either Belgium or Italy, who meet later Friday in Munich, at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.
After scoring 10 goals in their previous two matches, Spain returned to the style of sloppy play that saw them draw their first two group games against Sweden and Poland.
However, the 2008 and 2012 champions had a great start to this quarter-final, taking the lead in fortunate circumstances in the eighth minute.
A corner was only cleared as far as Jordi Alba, whose left-footed effort was diverted past Sommer by Switzerland midfielder Zakaria, who was only on the pitch in place of Xhaka.
It was Euro 2020‘s tenth own goal, more than the previous 15 editions combined.
Alvaro Morata squandered a golden opportunity by heading too near to Sommer when unmarked, but Switzerland gradually grew into the game.
After Silvan Widmer headed off target from a corner, Steven Zuber felt he had won a penalty but was ruled offside.
At halftime, Spain coach Luis Enrique substituted Dani Olmo for Pablo Sarabia, and the RB Leipzig man threatened within 60 seconds, seeing his low volley comfortably handled by Sommer.
Zakaria came agonizingly close to make amends for his previous own goal, but his header sailed wide.
In the 64th minute, Shaqiri initiated a swift counter-attack that concluded with Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon reacting superbly to keep out Zuber’s stabbed effort at his near post.
– Shaqiri scores –
Four minutes later, the underdogs equalized when Freuler pounced onto a loose ball after a mix-up in the Spanish defense and squared for Shaqiri to put into the far corner and record his third goal of the tournament.
The game’s rhythm changed in the 77th minute, when referee Michael Oliver sent Freuler out for a sliding challenge on Spanish substitute Moreno.
Switzerland held Spain at bay until the conclusion of normal time, but Moreno should have put Spain back in ahead in the third minute of extra time, only to miskick Alba’s cross wide from close range.
Switzerland may have been fortunate not to have another player sent off soon after, as Widmer avoided a second yellow card for a cynical foul on Olmo.
Moreno squandered another wonderful opportunity, being denied at point-blank range by Sommer before the Borussia Moenchengladbach goalkeeper produced an excellent diving save from Oyarzabal.
Sommer made eight saves in extra time alone, but his one from Rodri in the shoot-out was insufficient, despite Sergio Busquets hitting the post, as Switzerland missed three of their four penalties.