England reaches second successive Euros semifinal after penalty shootout win over Switzerland

England reached its second successive European Championship semifinal after a 5-3 penalty shootout victory over Switzerland at Euro 2024 on Saturday after the quarterfinal had ended 1-1.

Trent Alexander-Arnold scored the decisive penalty to seal the win for England as it booked its spot in the final four having lost in the final at the last edition of the tournament.

Breel Embolo had opened the scoring when he tapped home from close range in the 75th minute in Dusseldorf, only for Bukayo Saka to equalize just five minutes later with a stunning left-footed effort.

Nothing could separate the two teams in extra-time and so the game went to penalties. Switzerland’s first penalty from Manuel Akanji was saved by Jordan Pickford and that miss proved pivotal as England’s players dispatched their attempts with aplomb.

England hasn’t got the greatest track record in penalty shootouts in major tournaments, including at the Euros three years ago where Gareth Southgate’s team lost to Italy in the final on penalties, but Saturday’s success is a further step towards banishing those demons.

Prince William was at the Düsseldorf Arena to watch England’s victory.

England will face the Netherlands in the semifinals, after the Oranje beat Turkey 2-1 later on Saturday in Berlin.

England's Ivan Toney scores a penalty past Switzerland's Yann Sommer. - Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
England's Ivan Toney scores a penalty past Switzerland's Yann Sommer. - Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

“It is what we have practiced,” Alexander-Arnold, who came on as a substitute during extra-time, told the BBC. “When the gaffer said I was taking one, I enjoy it and I practice it – I knew I had to just execute it. All five penalties from us were great.”

England entered Saturday’s game with question marks around its performances at Euro 2024, having flattered to deceive offensively and being saved by some late heroics from Jude Bellingham in the last-16 round against Slovakia.

The first half was played in an open fashion, with Bellingham asserting his influence, while Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka – coming off a superb season for his club team, Bayer Leverkusen – continued his excellent form at the tournament in playing a vital cog in his team’s possession-based game.

England grew into the first half as two of it young stars – Saka and Kobbie Mainoo – almost combined on the brink of halftime, only for Xhaka to appear out of nowhere to get in a crucial block.

Whatever Switzerland manager Murat Yakin told his players at the interval seemed to make an impact as his players turned up the pressure on the England defense.

That pressure told when some intricate passing released Dan Ndoye down the right and his cross was turned home by Embolo to give Switzerland a deserved lead.

Going behind prompted Southgate to make changes from his bench, but it was one of the starters who drew England level.

Saka, who had looked England’s liveliest player throughout the game, cut inside from the right wing before unleashing a powerful effort which clipped off the far post and into the back of the net. It was England’s first shot on target.

Saka scores against Switzerland at Euro 2024. - Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters
Saka scores against Switzerland at Euro 2024. - Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters

In the first few minutes of extra-time, Yann Sommer produced a stunning save to deny Declan Rice whose long-range effort was heading into the bottom corner before the Swiss keeper’s outstretched hand pushed the ball away for a corner..

With penalties looming, Switzerland nearly got a dramatic late winner through Xherdan Shaqiri – who spent much of his club career in England with Stoke City and Liverpool – when his corner took Pickford by surprise and looked to be heading in, only for it to cannon off the bar.

After Cole Palmer scored England’s first effort in the penalty shootout, Akanji had his effort saved by Pickford. England’s other penalties from Saka, Ivan Toney, Bellingham and Alexander-Arnold gave Sommer no chance of saving them.

Southgate himself has first-hand experience of missing a crucial penalty in a semifinal defeat by Germany at Euro 1996, but England’s current crop of players showed no sign of the weight of history resting on their shoulders to book the team’s spot in the semifinals.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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