Euro 2020: Spain beats Switzerland on penalties to reach semi-finals

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Mikel Oyarzabal scored the decisive penalty after a poor-quality shootout – Switzerland missed four of its five attempts.

For much of the game, Spain seemed to climb into the last four of the competition without any problem. He quickly took the lead after Denis Zakaria’s unfortunate homeward goal but struggled to cope with a late flurry from Switzerland.

As the game began to run out of steam in the second half, Swiss talisman Xherdan Shaqiri retaliated by equalizing in the 68th minute after a mistake by the Spanish defense.

The momentum then turned in Switzerland’s favor, but the joy was short-lived. Remo Freuler received a questionable red card in the 77th minute, leaving Switzerland at 10 to wait for penalties during extra time – with the game ending 1-1.

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Mikel Oyarzabal celebrates his team's victory on penalties.
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Another goal against his camp

The two teams were tied after a dramatic and exhausting round of 16.

Spain edged Croatia in overtime on Monday, winning 5-3 in a draw, while Switzerland surprised reigning world champions France with a penalty shootout victory.

The heroism of Switzerland seemed to have withdrawn too much from the squad as they struggled to win in a relatively subdued first half in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Without regular captain Granit Xhaka, who was banned after receiving a yellow card against France, the team seemed content to sit down and absorb the waves of Spain’s attack.

Unsurprisingly, it was Spain who made the breakthrough after 8 minutes, albeit by fortunate circumstances.

Jordi Alba’s strike from outside the box caused Zakaria to deflect and the ball passed in front of goalkeeper Yann Sommer, who was blocked while diving in the wrong direction.

Incredibly, it was his own 10th own goal in the tournament, one more than each of the previous 15 European Championships combined.

Things got worse for Switzerland as their main attacking threat, Breel Embolo, was forced off the pitch with a hamstring injury after just over 20 minutes of play.

Chances were scarce in the game with Spain completely dominating the proceedings after half-time.

But, just when a Spanish victory seemed inevitable, Switzerland’s Shaqiri took advantage of defensive confusion to bring the equalizer home in the 68th minute.

Despite little danger, Aymeric Laporte accidentally hit the ball against teammate Pau Torres, leaving Remo Freuler to take Shaqiri for the goal.

Denis Zakaria watches his deflection put Spain in the lead.

Red card

But the joy was short lived with Freuler sent off for what referee Michael Oliver saw as a reckless tackle in the 77th minute.

On second viewing, and despite VAR’s deal with Oliver, the decision seemed tough, with Freuler appearing to come into contact with the ball during a slipped tackle on Gerard Moreno.

With the level of scores, the tie entered extra time with Switzerland at 10 waiting for the penalty shoot-out.

Although impressive with their shots on goal against France, Switzerland only managed to score one of their shots on goal against Spain, who themselves missed two attempts.

Despite the victory, questions remain about Spain’s fragile defense and its lack of sharpness. He will certainly face a more difficult test in the next round as he takes on Italy or Belgium on Tuesday.

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