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Sommer heroics can’t save Swiss as Spain reach Euro 2020 semis on penalties

Spain needed a penalty shootout to edge past Switzerland and reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020, with the game ending 1-1 after 120 minutes.

A Denis Zakaria own goal gave Spain the lead but Xherdan Shaqiri level affairs in the second period. There were no more goals but Spain held their nerve from 12 yards out to take the shootout 3-1.

With fancied nations dropping like flies in the Round of 16 stage, Euro 2020 appeared ripe for a shock name on the trophy. Fresh off their remarkable upset over France, Switzerland travelled to St. Petersburg to take on free-scoring Spain who had notched five goals in back-to-back matches.

Granit Xhaka served a suspension after amassing two many yellow cards, and it was his replacement that hit the headlines early.

A poor Spain corner swung away to Jordi Alba 10 yards outside the box. He tried his luck from distance before the unfortunate Zakaria stuck out a leg and deflected the ball beyond Yan Sommer to put Spain ahead.

A moment to forget for Denis Zakaria

A moment to remember for Jordi Alba and #ESP #SUIESP | #ITVFootball | #Euro2020

— ITV Football (@itvfootball) July 2, 2021

Koke guided a superb free-kick opportunity over the crossbar, but the early tone was set – Switzerland had their hands full.

Set pieces seemed the likeliest avenue for the Swiss to make in-roads. In the 34th minute, the dead ball almost produced an equaliser.

Xherdan Shaqiri’s wicked delivery from a corner picked out Manuel Akanji who had evaded the marking of Sergio Busquets. The centre-half met the ball powerfully, but failed to keep his header down.

While clear-cut chances were in short supply, the underdogs did manage to contain their opponent for much of the remainder of the first half. After the whirlwind encounters that concluded the Last 16 stage, this was an altogether more sedate affair as half time neared.

Despite persistent backing from his manager Luis Enrique, Alvaro Morata was then hooked just eight minutes later with Gerard Moreno given a chance to shine.

Corners again proved a fruitful avenue for the Swiss when Zakaria almost atoned for his earlier misfortune. He climbed highest to meet Ricardo Rodriguez’s corner but saw his effort drift agonisingly wide.

Switzerland gradually began to build pressure, but when their equaliser came it owed a lot to the incompetence of their Spanish counterparts.

Aymeric Laporte and Pau Torres got in an almighty mix-up at the back. The ball fell to Swiss feet before Xherdan Shaqiri was fed inside the area. Finishing accurately into the bottom corner with a first-time weak foot effort, the man affectionately known as the ‘Alpine Messi’ made it 1-1.

Shaqiri Shaqiri!

The #SUI skipper for the day leading from the front… but what an error from the #ESP defence! #SUIESP | #ITVFootball | #Euro2020

— ITV Football (@itvfootball) July 2, 2021

With the game back in the balance, Remo Freuler put Switzerland behind the eight ball when picking up a straight red card for a lunge on Moreno.

But despite the man-advantage, Spain could not find a winner as the first quarter final at Euro 2020 went to extra time.

Just two minutes into the first extra period, Spain should have been in front. Alba’s first-time cross was begging to be put away but Moreno managed to shin it wide of the target.

It seemed clear that the Swiss, down to 10 men, were playing for penalties as the game became attack versus defence. Sommer was tested by Alba and Mikel Oyarzabal but he kept it at 1-1 until half time of extra-time.

Rodriguez denied Marcos Llorente what loked to be a certain goal with a superb block on 111 minutes. And Sommer then dealt with Dani Olmo’s low drive.

Liverpool’s Thiago was brought on for Pau Torres with eight minutes to go but Spain could not find a way through and the match went to penalties.

Busquets missed with Spain’s first spot kick before Mario Gavranovic buried his to give Switzerland the advantage. Olmo notched his penalty for Spain but Fabian Schar’s was saved to even things up.

Sommer then denied Rodri as the Swiss gained control once again. But Manuel Akanji’s was saved by Simon. Moreno buried his to make it 2-1 to Spain before Ruben Vargas skied his effort.

Oyarzabal then stepped up and found the corner to send La Roja into the last-four. Sommer had played superbly throughout but his heroics were to no avail.


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