Spain edge Switzerland in shootout to reach Euro 2020 semi-finals

Unai Simon hero in Spain thrashing of Switzerland
Unai Simon hero in Spain thrashing of Switzerland

Goalkeeper Unai Simon saved two penalty kicks as Spain beat Switzerland 3-1 in a shootout on Friday to secure a place in the Euro 2020 semi-finals.

Spain prevailed in the shootout as Mikel Oyarzabal scored the winner after Simon had saved from Fabian Schaer and Manuel Akanji.

Ruben Vargas had fired high for the Swiss in the quarter-final game played in St Petersburg. Spain’s Sergio Busquets and Rodri also failed to score in the shootout but Oyarzabal, Dani Olmo and Gerard Moreno beat Yann Sommer.

The score was locked at 1-1 after 120 minutes of play.

The 2008 and 2012 champions Spain took an early lead in the eighth minute, thanks to an own goal by Denias Zakaria who deflected a half-volley from Jordi Alba.

The Spanish side failed to convert the few chances they created and saw Switzerland equalise in the 68th minute.

Stand-in captain Xherdan Shaqiri swept his effort into the net after a mix-up at the Spanish defence.
Shortly after the goal, Switzerland were however reduced to 10 men as Remo Freuler saw a red card for a foul on Moreno.

The game went into extra-time and Spain were naturally the most attacking team, but were stopped by Sommer who had a brilliant performance.

Spain move into a Tuesday semi-final at Wembley against Italy who beat Belgium 2-1 later on Friday.
Switzerland on the other hand have bowed out after a second shootout, having beaten world champions France from the penalty kicks spot in the last 16.

“Football has been fair, and we are deservedly winners. You have to quickly erase the errors but also forget this triumph because we face a tough rival in the next match,” said Simon.

He had made a massive blunder in the last 16 win over Croatia when he failed to control a backpass from pedri which went in.

Oyarzabal, speaking on his kick in the shootout, said: “You couldn’t miss it, and luckily it went in. On the way there, a lot of things go through your head and on top of that the ball was far away. But I had it clear to me.”

The Spaniards had broken the deadlock in the match with the 10th own goal at the Euro 2020. Koke found Jordi Alba through the crowded penalty area and he sent a half-volley towards the goal. Zakaria stuck out his leg to prevent the ball from falling into the net, but only diverted it past Sommer.

Koke himself had a powerful free-kick that could have extended the Spanish lead, but his effort went just over the bar.

Spain then had a lot of possession but since the goal not a lot of threat.

After the break, a mix-up between Laporte and Pau Torres left the ball to Freuler, and he fed it to Shaqiri to send a right-footed kick into the far corner.

Celebrations, however, didn’t last long as Freuler got his marching orders. But Sommer kept them in the game against a pressing Spain side in extra time.

The goalkeeper was superb to deny Moreno from close range with a left foot effort in what was the best chance of extra time. “I’m so proud of the team, what we’ve achieved here with the whole country behind us,” Sommer said.

Busquets opened the shootout hitting the post and Mario Gavranovic put Switzerland ahead, but Spain overcame the bad start thanks to the saves by Simon and moved to the semi-finals.

Shaqiri, who was substituted before extra time, said: “We just lacked a bit of luck today.”
But he was also “really proud” of the team.


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