England beats Switzerland in a penalty shootout to reach Euro 2024 semifinals

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) — Add another chapter to England's tortuous history with penalty shootouts.

Three years on from losing the European Championship final on penalties, England's players radiated confidence as they beat Switzerland in a shootout to reach the semifinals of Euro 2024.

Trent Alexander-Arnold blasted the ball into the top corner for the winner as England swept all of its penalties to win the shootout 5-3 after a 1-1 draw in extra time on Saturday.

“The team showed a lot of character, a lot of belief, heart and spirit out there,” Alexander-Arnold told the BBC. “We knew it was going to be tight but whatever it takes, no matter what, we win and that’s all that matters.”

Benched following England’s first two Euro 2024 games, Alexander-Arnold “could have easily thought his tournament was done," England manager Gareth Southgate said. “I kept talking to him. He’s going to have moments, there’s still a big part to play.”

Bukayo Saka, whose penalty kick was saved to decide the final shootout in 2021, and who was racially abused on social media in the aftermath, also stepped up to score. The 22-year-old had also equalized earlier to ensure the game went to extra time.

The other shootout scorers were Cole Palmer and Jude Bellingham, 22 and 21 respectively, and Ivan Toney, who returned in January from an eight-month ban for breaching betting rules.

England was in the lead in the shootout after goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved from Manuel Akanji, who took Switzerland's first penalty kick.

Southgate's own England career was defined by a semifinal shootout miss against Germany when England hosted the 1996 European Championship.

When he became manager in 2016, England hadn't won a shootout in 20 years. It's won three of four shootouts in Southgate's eight-year tenure as manager, but lost the most important one in the 2021 final.

England goes on to play Netherlands in Dortmund on Wednesday for a spot in the final.

Switzerland, which has never reached the semifinals of a major tournament, exits the European Championship on penalties in the quarterfinals for the second time running after defeat to Spain three years ago. “I'm really sad for the players,” coach Murat Yakin said.

It was the second game in a row that England left it late to win, after beating Slovakia 2-1 in extra time in the last 16.

The quarterfinal went to extra time after England forward Saka scored with a shot off the post in the 80th minute to cancel out Breel Embolo's goal five minutes earlier for Switzerland. It was the first shot on target for England in what was otherwise a cagey and cautious performance from the 2021 runner-up.

The team's drab tactics have drawn criticism from fans, including some who threw plastic cups in Southgate's direction after a 0-0 group stage draw with Slovenia.

“When it's as personal as it's been in the last few weeks, on a human level it's quite difficult,” Southgate said on Saturday, going on to defend England's “streetwise” approach to winning games.

The Swiss had the better chances to win in extra time, including Xherdan Shaqiri hitting the frame of the goal direct from a corner and Zeki Amdouni forcing a save from Pickford in the 119th.

England was without captain and striker Harry Kane for the shootout after he collided with Southgate on the touchline while challenging for a ball and appeared to be hurt. He was replaced by Toney. Kane had cramp, Southgate said.

Taking charge of his 100th game, Southgate has now taken England to at least the semifinals in three of the four major tournaments on his watch.

“We've never been to a final outside of England, we've never won a Euros," Southgate said. “So there's two bits of history we'd like to create.”


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