• Thursday, July 25, 2024

FOOTBALL

Euro: England win on penalties, set up Netherlands semi-final

England produced another late fightback as their quarter-final with the Swiss finished 1-1 after 90 minutes and at the end of extra time, before winning a 5-3 in the shootout

England’s Jordan Pickford saves a penalty in the shootout missed by Switzerland’s Manuel Akanji (REUTERS/Lee Smith)

By: Shajil Kumar

ENGLAND beat Switzerland on penalties on Saturday (6) to keep their dreams of winning Euro 2024 alive as they advanced to a semi-final showdown with the Netherlands, who came from behind to defeat Turkey in the day’s other match.

In Duesseldorf, England produced another late fightback as their quarter-final with the Swiss finished 1-1 after 90 minutes and at the end of extra time, before Gareth Southgate’s side triumphed 5-3 in the shootout.

England converted all of their penalties, with Switzerland’s Manuel Akanji the only player to miss as he took his team’s first kick but was denied by a Jordan Pickford save.

A dreary encounter for the first 75 minutes came to life after Breel Embolo put Switzerland in front, sliding in at the back post to convert Dan Ndoye’s deflected cross.

England, who came back from the dead to beat Slovakia in the last round, needed only five minutes to draw level thanks to a fine goal by Bukayo Saka, the Arsenal attacker’s low strike from wide on the right finding the far corner of the net.

Read: France beat Portugal on penalties to set Euro semis date with Spain

There were no further goals, although substitute Xherdan Shaqiri came close to winning the game late in extra time for Switzerland when he hit the woodwork direct from a corner.

Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Saka, Ivan Toney and Trent Alexander-Arnold converted their penalties to send England through, as they went some way towards exorcising the ghost of their shoot-out defeat by Italy in the final of Euro 2020.

“We are not going to stop fighting, we are in another semi-final and we’ll see where we can get to,” said Southgate, who marked the victory in his 100th game in charge with a dance in front of the England fans.

“Every now and then you think surely there has to be some enjoyment in this job. If I can’t enjoy that moment the whole thing is a waste of time,” he added.

Switzerland have now reached five quarter-finals at either the World Cup or Euros, and lost them all — they also lost on penalties, to Spain, in the last eight at Euro 2020.

“Of course it hurts a lot when we made such an effort and had the chances we had. I’m very sad for the lads and the nation that after a performance like that we have to leave the tournament,” said their coach, Murat Yakin.

Dutch fightback sinks Turkey

As the Swiss go home, England stay in Germany for a semi-final on Wednesday in Dortmund against the Netherlands, who came from a goal down to beat Turkey 2-1 in Berlin in Saturday’s other quarter-final.

Samet Akaydin sent Turkey ahead in the first half, heading in from Arda Guler’s cross on 35 minutes.

Akaydin was playing in place of Merih Demiral, Turkey’s two-goal hero in their last-16 win against Austria who was banned for this game for making a controversial salute.

The build-up to the match at Berlin’s Olympiastadion was overshadowed by a diplomatic row between Turkey and Germany after Demiral was banned.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the game as a result, along with tens of thousands of fans who greeted every sustained Dutch period of possession with a barrage of whistles.

But the Netherlands kept their cool in a hostile atmosphere and equalised 20 minutes from the end as Stefan de Vrij met Memphis Depay’s cross to score with a towering header.

The Dutch then won it six minutes later when Mert Muldur bundled a low Denzel Dumfries cross into his own net under pressure from Cody Gakpo.

That was enough for the Netherlands, who won the Euros in West Germany in 1988, to advance to a first semi-final at the tournament since 2004.

“Tonight we had to dig very deep and I am proud of these guys,” captain Virgil van Dijk told broadcaster NOS.

“We want to fulfil our dream and we are one step closer.”

Spain and France meet in the first semi-final in Munich on Tuesday, with the winners of the two last-four ties advancing to the final in Berlin next Sunday. (AFP)

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