Spain defeated 10-man Switzerland on penalties to reach the semi-finals

Goalkeeper Unai Simon was the hero as Spain advanced 3-1 past 10-man Switzerland on penalties on Friday to set up a Euro 2021 semi-final against Belgium or Italy.

After a 1-1 draw in St Petersburg, where the Swiss was one man behind for 43 minutes, Simon made two saves in the shoot-out to keep Spain’s bid for a record fourth European crown alive.

It was heartbreaking for Switzerland, who wanted to reach the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time in their history.

Spain took the lead early on when Denis Zakaria pierced his own net, but Switzerland was the better side for a long time and Xherdan Shaqiri, who replaced the suspended Granit Xhaka as captain, equalized in the 68th minute.

However, the Swiss were reduced to 10 men with 13 minutes to go when midfielder Remo Freuler was controversially sacked for a tackle on Gerard Moreno.

Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer, the hero of the penalty shoot-out victory over world champions France in the last 16, made a series of fine saves in extra time.

But Simon saved from Fabian Schaer and Manuel Akanji, while Ruben skipped Vargas in a thrilling final as Spain sneaked through, with Mikel Oyarzabal hitting the winning goal.

Luis Enrique’s men will face Belgium or Italy, who will meet later Friday in Munich, Tuesday at Wembley.

Having scored 10 goals in their previous two games, this was a return to the kind of riotous performances in which Spain drew their first two group matches against Sweden and Poland.

But the 2008 and 2012 winners had made a dream start to this quarter-final, taking the lead in just the eighth minute in fortunate circumstances.

A corner was cleared only as far as Jordi Alba, whose left-footed volley past Sommer was led by Swiss midfielder Zakaria, who played alone for Xhaka.

It was the 10th own goal of Euro 2021, more than the other 15 editions combined.

Alvaro Morata lost an excellent opportunity by getting too close to Sommer when he was unmarked, but then Switzerland started to grow in the game.

Silvan Widmer headed on goal from a corner before Steven Zuber thought he had won a penalty, but was flagged for offside.

🙌🏻¡¡ESTAMOS AND SEMI-FINALEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSS!!

🙌🏻 ESTAMOS AND SEMI-FINALEEEEESS!! ¡¡QUE VIIIIIVAAA ESPAÑAAA!!

😭 Las lágrimas inundan nuestras mejillas de pura emoción. The pure adrenaline.

CÓMO ESTÁIS VOSOTROS, AFICIÓN?

💪🏻🇪🇸 VAMOOOOOOOOOSSSS!!#SomosEspaña #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/xi2KFdl54m

— Selection Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) July 2, 2021

Spain coach Luis Enrique sent Dani Olmo in front of Pablo Sarabia at half time and the RB Leipzig man threatened within 60 seconds when he saw his low volley being held well by Sommer.

Zakaria came painfully close to making up for his earlier own goal when his header went narrowly wide.

Switzerland had an even better chance of equalizing in the 64th minute as Shaqiri unleashed a swift counterattack that ended with Spanish goalkeeper Simon reacting well to fend off Zuber’s stabbed attempt at his nearest post.

Shaqiri strikes

But the underdogs found the equalizing goal four minutes later when Freuler grabbed a loose ball after a substitution in the Spanish defense and pushed Shaqiri into the far corner to score his third goal of the tournament.

However, the pattern changed in the 77th minute when referee Michael Oliver Freuler gave his orders for a sliding tackle on Spanish substitute Moreno.

Switzerland managed to hold Spain away until the end of normal time with relative ease, but in the third minute of the extra half hour, Moreno should have put Spain ahead again, only to kick Alba’s cross wide from close range.

Switzerland may have been lucky not to have another man sent off shortly after, when Widmer escaped a second yellow card for a cynical foul on Olmo.

Moreno somehow missed another golden opportunity, which Sommer denied at close quarters, before the Borussia Mönchengladbach stopper made an excellent diving save from Oyarzabal.

Sommer made eight saves in extra time alone, but his save in Rodri’s shoot-out was not enough, despite Sergio Busquets also hitting the post as Switzerland missed three of their four penalties.

( Jowharwith AFP)

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More