England beat Switzerland on penalties to reach Euro semis


England advanced to the semi-finals of Euro 2024 with a penalty shootout win over Switzerland as Jordan Pickford’s save from Manuel Akanji’s spot-kick proved decisive following a 1-1 draw.

Trent Alexander-Arnold slammed home the winning penalty after Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Ivan Toney had also held their nerve, with Pickford thwarting Akanji, Switzerland’s first taker, to clinch a nail-biting 5-3 shootout win.

England, who will now face Netherlands or Turkey in the semi-finals, had looked at risk of limping out of the tournament in normal time when Switzerland’s Breel Embolo stole ahead of Kyle Walker to poke in Dan Ndoye’s deflected cross from close range in the 75th minute.

But Saka, England’s most dangerous player in an unfamiliar right wing-back role, found a leveller shortly afterwards when he cut inside and curled a brilliant finish in off the post from outside the box.

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Ryan Bertrand reacts to Bukayo Saka’s stunning equaliser on Sky Sports News

Saka’s goal came from England’s first shot on target and Gareth Southgate’s side continued to labour in extra-time, surviving heart-in-mouth moments when Xherdan Shaqiri struck the woodwork directly from a corner and Zeki Amdouni had a shot parried.

None of that mattered in the end, though, as England kept their cool in the shootout to exorcise the demons of their Euro 2020 final defeat on penalties to Italy and go through to the semis, with their tie taking place on Wednesday night in Dortmund, kick-off 8pm.

England’s penalty joy in pictures

'Akanji, dive left' - Jordan Pickford's water bottle had his penalty notes on it!
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‘Akanji, dive left’ – Jordan Pickford’s water bottle had his penalty notes on it!

Jordan Pickford saves Manuel Akanji's penalty
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Jordan Pickford saved Manuel Akanji’s penalty

Trent Alexander-Arnold scores the decisive penalty to send England into the Euro 2024 semi-finals
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Trent Alexander-Arnold converted the winning spot kick

England player start the celebrations after Trent Alexander-Arnold's winning penalty
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England’s players start the celebrations after the winning penalty

Jordan Pickford and Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrate after England defeat Switzerland on penalties
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Pickford celebrates with Alexander-Arnold afterwards

Gareth Southgate congratulates Jude Bellingham after England defeat Switzerland on penalties
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Gareth Southgate congratulates Jude Bellingham

Analysis: Saka shows his mettle and quality

England would not be celebrating a place in the last four without Bukayo Saka. The Arsenal forward, England’s most dangerous player throughout the contest, scored a stunning equaliser during a player-of-the-match performance in Dusseldorf.

Even more impressive, though, was his willingness to then step up and take one of England’s penalties in the shootout, only three years after the miss that proved so costly in the final of Euro 2020. Not only that, he converted it too, demonstrating his quality and mettle to help England get over the line.

Bukayo Saka celebrates after equalising for England against Switzerland
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Bukayo Saka celebrates after equalising for England against Switzerland

“I’m going to put it up there,” Saka said to BBC when asked where the win ranked for him afterwards. “It was special, special for how we fought back and to go to penalties as well.

“The last time we took a penalty shootout at the Euros, we all know what happened. I’m so proud of everyone that we got over the line.

“I have faith in God. To come back from something like that was really difficult but I used it to make me stronger and today I took the chance, so I’m happy.”

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Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and fans celebrate England’s win over Switzerland on penalties to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2024

Southgate: The best we’ve played

England boss Gareth Southgate to BBC:

“I just thought the players were brilliant. It’s the best we have played. I thought we caused them a lot of problems. They are a really good side. They are hard to press, they are hard to defend against, their movement is good.

“To come from behind again and show the character and resilience we did… Talking to the players about that, winning tournaments isn’t just about playing well. It’s not just about that. You’ve got to show other attributes to win and we showed them all tonight.”

On Bukayo Saka’s bravery in taking a penalty in the shootout:

“So brave. He is one of our best, so we were never in any question that he was going to take one. But we all know what he went through.

“To deliver as he did…. But not just him, Trent and Ivan, to come on and take them as they did; Cole, he’s like an old man in the way he is fearless. So a huge result for us, a huge performance, and we’re still in it.

“We played well today and we had to be tactically spot on. I don’t know what people think of us but we are in a third semi-final, so that says a lot about the group.”

Trent: We showed heart and spirit

England’s Trent Alexander-Arnold to BBC:

“Incredible. These are the goals that we set for ourselves. Difficult opponent, going behind, and the team showed a lot of character, belief, heart and spirit out there.

“We knew it was going to be tight. Whatever it takes, and no matter what, we win. That is all that matters to us.”

“The penalties are what we have practiced. When the gaffer said I was taking one, I just enjoy it and I practice it – I knew I had to just execute it. All five penalties from us were great.”

How the penalties were taken

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Stats: Story of the match

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