Saturday, September 25, 2021

Spain Defeat Ten-man Switzerland On Penalties To Reach Euro 2020 Semi-finals

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Spain claimed victory over a ten-man Switzerland side via a nail-biting penalty shootout to become the first team to secure a place in the Euro 2020 semi-finals.

Sergio Busquets and Rodri missed spot-kicks for Spain as an inspired Yann Sommer shone with yet more heroics between the sticks, but Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal stepped up to score with the decisive effort from 12 yards.
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Fabian Schar, Manuel Akanji and Ruben Vargas all failed to convert for the Swiss, just four days on from their thrilling win over favourites France after a shootout.
Xherdan Shaqiri had earlier capitalised on some calamitous Spain defending to cancel out Denis Zakaria’s eighth-minute own goal and take the game to extra-time, with Remo Freuler was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Gerard Moreno not long after the equaliser.
But Spain came through to win the first meeting between the two sides at a European Championships and Luis Enrique’s men do battle with either Belgium or Italy for a place in the final of this summer’s tournament.

Yann Sommer of Switzerland fails to save the winning Spain penalty scored by Mikel Oyarzabal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Switzerland and Spain at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 02, 2021 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

In the wake of their energy-sapping triumph over the French, Switzerland started brightly and looked particularly dangerous on the counter-attack in the opening stages.
But Spain converted their first real chance of the game in the only eighth minute as Koke’s overhit corner fell to Jordi Alba, whose subsequent strike deflected in off an unfortunate Zakaria.

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The Swiss’ early confidence turned to nervousness after falling behind at such an early stage and Koke had a golden opportunity to double Spain’s advantage ten minutes on from their opener. Sommer could breathe a sigh of relief, though, as the Atletico Madrid captain’s curling free-kick sailed over the crossbar.
Both sides had chances from corners as the first half wound down, with Cesar Azpilicueta nodding an inviting header directly into Sommer’s arms from a Spain corner in the 25th minute.
Swiss defenders Manuel Akanji and Silvan Widmer had free headers of their own at the other end of the pitch but ballooned their efforts harmlessly over without troubling Unai Simon.

Vladimir Petkovic’s team picked up where they left off after half-time and Shaqiri had Unai Simon scrambling as he tested the Spain goalkeeper at the near post with a corner in the 53rd minute, but the winger’s audacious effort struck the side netting.
Zakaria looked to have atoned for his earlier error as he rose unmarked to meet an enticing delivery in the 56th minute, with Switzerland threatening from set-pieces.
However, the Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder – standing in for the suspended Granit Xhaka in Russia – looked on in despair as his controlled header rolled past the upright by mere inches.

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A rejuvenated Switzerland grew into the game after the break and Simon leapt to his right with a smart reflex save to keep out Steven Zuber’s poked finish in the 64th minute.
And the pressure told just four minutes later as Shaqiri capitalised on a catalogue of errors from Spain’s defence to score his third goal of the championships.
A comical mix up between Aymeric Laporte and Pau Torres inside the box and allowed Remo Freuler to race through and square the ball to Shaqiri, who could hardly miss from 12 yards out.
The Swiss were reduced to ten men with 13 minutes remaining as referee Michael Oliver deemed Remo Freuler’s sliding challenge on second-half substitute Moreno worthy of a red card.
Moreno missed the target with the opening opportunity of extra-time before Sommer directed a swerving effort from Alba over the crossbar.
Luis Enrique’s side were on the ascendancy as the first period wore on and an inspired Sommer – Switzerland’s hero in the last round – intervened once again with a sublime save to stop Moreno from near point-blank range.

With Switzerland on the ropes and seemingly clinging on for penalties, Ricardo Rodriguez denied Marcos Llorente with a desperate block inside the box to keep the scoreline level.
The final chance to avoid a dreaded penalty shootout fell to Rodri but the Manchester City had his head in his hands as he sent the ball flying over Sommer’s goal with a header.
Spain’s players will no doubt be watching on later this evening to discover their next opponents, with Belgium and Italy fighting it out to join them in the first semi-final.Photo Credit: Getty

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