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England in semi-finals after penalty shootout against Switzerland

England in semi-finals after penalty shootout against Switzerland

After a match that had not been particularly exciting up to that point, Switzerland took the lead in the 75th minute through Breel Embolo in front of 46,907 spectators, and Bukayo Saka responded to those five minutes with a fine individual move to make it 1-1, England having had their first shot on target. The match then went into extra time, in which no goals were scored. In the penalty shootout, Pickford saved Switzerland's first attempt through Manuel Akanji, who was neither particularly sharp nor well-positioned.

This is the third time England have reached the semi-finals of a major tournament during Southgate’s tenure. At the 2018 World Cup, they were eliminated by Croatia, and at the European Championships three years ago, England only lost the final to Italy on penalties. This time, Trent Alexander-Arnold scored the crucial fifth try. Man of the Match Saka also scored safely after nerves failed him in the Euro 2021 final in London.

After several bloodless displays, England introduced a three-man defensive line for the first time in Germany. Kyle Walker and John Stones, plus Aston Villa’s Ezri Konsa, revived the system, with Konsa replacing the suspended Marc Guehi of Crystal Palace. Saka played on the right and Kieran Trippier on the left. Switzerland played with the same line-up that beat Italy 2-0 in the last 16.

In the first half, the two teams largely neutralised each other, with England enjoying more possession and showing better passing quality than they have of late. But there were few opportunities to see it in Dusseldorf. His team-mates frequently looked for and found Saka, but he was either just offside or his passes lacked precision and sharpness.

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In attack, the Swiss team initially lacked quality, which was not evident until after the break. Embolo's shot (51) into the arms of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was the first notable move in the opponent's penalty area. Shortly afterwards, Adi Hutter's protégé in Monaco failed to collect a cross from Rodriguez.

Switzerland were now hungrier than their island rivals for goals, so a 1-0 lead was no surprise. After a sharp cross from Dan Ndoye, Stones could not clear the ball in midfield in the 75th minute and Embolo rounded Walker. The athletic forward only needed to push it in from close range. Just five minutes later Saka equalised with a dream goal via the inside of the bar from the edge of the box. Not much happened after that until extra time. In the third minute of stoppage time, Embolo and Ndoye missed a dangerous cross from Schar from the right in the middle.

In the first extra-time, Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer was forced to stretch a lot when Declan Rice hit him (95), but he was almost out of action after that. Both teams were particularly careful not to take too many risks – and the result was more ball-playing in midfield. Highlights: Substitute Xherdan Shaqiri put a corner straight on the bar in the 117th minute, then Pickford saved Amdouni's shot. The exhausted Three Lions stars Harry Kane and Phil Foden had already left the pitch.