England are spot on as the Swiss roll

England v Switzerland – UEFA 2024 – Quarter Final – Merkur Spiel Arena, Düsseldorf – Report

England 1-1 Switzerland  

(England won 5-3 on penalties)

Despite yet another indifferent performance on the night, England celebrated Gareth Southgate’s 100th match in charge by advancing to the semi-final of Euro 2024 after beating Switzerland 5-3 on penalties – following a 1-1 draw after extra time – in Düsseldorf.

Southgate made one enforced change after Sunday’s dramatic 2-1 extra-time victory over Slovakia with Aston Villa’s Ezri Konsa replacing the suspended Marc Guehi in defence, whilst Murat Yakin named an unchanged starting line-up on the back of Switzerland’s 2-0 win over Italy in Berlin.

The game kicked off with a wall of sound engulfing the stadium as England slowly prodded and probed inside the Switzerland half to little effect in the opening minutes and despite the Swiss initially looking dangerous going forward, the game quickly became a rather tepid affair with the first real action of note occurring just after the seventeen-minute mark when Harry Kane appeared to be fouled inside the box by Fabian Schar, yet despite vociferous appeals for a penalty by the Bayern Munich striker, Italian referee Daniele Orsato remained unmoved and quickly waved away the claim.

Despite the Three Lions pressing high and having the majority of the possession during the first half, much to the frustration of the estimated 40,000 England fans inside the ground their undoubted dominance failed to manifest itself into any real clearcut chances with the teams going in at half-time scoreless and without either goalkeeper having been called upon to make a save.

Five minutes after the resumption, Breel Embolo turned Konsa inside the box before firing directly at Jordan Pickford and just prior to the hour mark, with Switzerland visibly growing in confidence, Embolo had another good chance to put his side into the lead, only to this time tamely head into Pickford’s arms after Konsa did just enough to stop the AS Monaco striker from being able to make full contact with the ball.

Switzerland fashioned another good opportunity for themselves just minutes later when John Stones’ weak header out of defence fell nicely for Michael Aebischer – only for the midfielder to fire high and wide over the crossbar.

Having been in the ascendency throughout the second half, the Swiss took the lead sixteen minutes before the end when Dan Ndoye’s deflected low cross from the right allowed Embolo to get in behind the England back line to poke the ball into the net from close range and make it 1-0.

Southgate immediately made a triple substitution – bringing on Cole Palmer, Luke Shaw and Eberechi Eze for Konsa, Kieran Trippier and Kobbie Mainoo and just seconds later Declan Rice found the outstanding Bakaya Saka wide on the right to cut inside before unleashing a precision strike into the bottom left corner from twenty yards out to make it 1-1 and in the process, become the third Arsenal player – after Tony Adams in 1988 and Theo Walcott in 2012 – to score in the final stages of the Euros.

Eze almost manufactured a chance for himself in the final minute only to be caught in two minds and fail to get his shot off before Switzerland themselves had a wonderful opportunity to clinch victory in stoppage time after Embolo just was unable to make a clean connection with Schar’s pinpoint cross across the box.

With the referee’s whistle bringing regulation time to a close just after, England found themselves once again having to embark on extra time for the second match in succession and just four minutes in, Rice’s scorching twenty-five-yard effort was magnificently turned round the post by keeper Yann Sommer.

Kane’s disappointing evening ended after his collision with Manchester City’s Manuel Akanji saw him tumble past Southgate, over scattered water bottles and into England’s dugout – which is where he then remained with Brentford’s Ivan Toney being brought on in his place straight after.

With the Swiss pushing forward with renewed intensity in the final few minutes, substitute  Xherdan Shaqiri hit the woodwork directly from a corner before from the last chance of the match, Pickford was called into action to keep out sub Zeki Amdouni’s vicious effort with England grimly hanging on at the end to the take the game to a penalty shootout.

Chelsea’s Palmer netted the Three Lion’s first spot kick only for Pickford to then save easily from Akanji.  Despite Schär, Shaqiri and Amdouni all netting for the Swiss, Jude Bellingham, Saka – bravely atoning for his miss in the Euro 2024 final against Italy – and Toney, all fired home with consummate ease, leaving Trent Alexander Arnold with the responsibility of stepping up to secure victory for England.

His kick was cooly – and emphatically – hammered home into the top left-hand corner of the net as despite looking to be precariously teetering on the brink of exiting the competition, England – once again – came through to find a way to win.

The Three Lions will now play the Netherlands in the Euro 2024 semi-final in Dortmund on Wednesday (8pm).

Coach Southgate spoke to www.bbc.co.uk/sport following the match: “I thought the players were brilliant, it is the best we have played. To come from behind and shown character and resilience we did. It isn’t just about playing well.

“It was so brave from Bukayo, he is one of our best and we were never in question he would take one. But we all knew what he went through.

“Huge performance, huge result and we are still in it. We had to be tactically spot on. We are in a third semi-final and it says a lot about the whole group. I thought we had good control.”

England captain Kane also spoke to www.bbc.co.uk/sport: “Another tough game and first of all great resilience from the lads to turn it up again. To get the goal, a fantastic finish from Bukayo Saka. Penalties are penalties, but I felt prepared – I was on the side, but I felt comfortable and had confidence in the lads.

“Five out of five and a save from Picks [Jordan Pickford]!

“We trust in whoever is on the pitch and the difference this year compared to past years is we have proven penalty takers – we have a lot more experience and we showed it out there today.”

England: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Konsa (Palmer 78’) Trippier (Eze 78’) Mainoo (Shaw 78’) Rice, Saka, Bellingham, Foden (Alexander-Arnold 115’) Kane (Capt) (Toney 109’) Subs not used: Ramsdale, Henderson, Dunk, Gallagher, Gordon, Watkins, Bowen, Gomez, Wharton

Switzerland: Sommer, Schar, Akanaji, Rodriguez; Ndoye (Zakaria 98’) Freuler (Amdouni 118’) Xhaka (Capt) Aebischer (Sierro 118’) Rieder (Zuber 64’) Vargas (Widmer 64’) Embolo (Shaqiri 109’) Subs not used: Stergiou, Steffen, Duah, Elvedi, Okafor, Mvogo, Zesiger, Kobel, Jashari

Referee: Daniele Orsato

Assistants: Ciro Carbone and Alessandro Giallatini

Fourth Official: Daniel Siebert

VAR: Massimiliano Irrati

Assistant VAR 1: Paolo Valeri

Assistant VAR 2: Bastian Dankert