The Swiss showed immense character to push the former European champions the distance despite going a man down in the second half.
Spain became the first team to progress to the semi-finals of Euro 2020 after a thrilling one against Switzerland on Friday. The match had gone to penalties after the sides remained locked at 1-1 after 120 minutes of football. The goalkeepers were undoubtedly the heroes of the shootout as Spain managed to hold their nerve and win 3-1 in the shootout. The Swiss showed immense character to push the former European champions the distance despite going a man down in the second half. Luis Enrique’s men will have to face either Belgium or Italy in the semi-finals at Wembley.
The Spaniards took an early lead when a Jordi Alba strike from distance hit Swiss defender Denis Zakaria and flew past Jan Sommer. The goalkeeper had absolutely no chance of getting anywhere near it as he was wrong-footed. The goal went down as a Zakaria own goal as Spain took the lead in the eighth minute. The Spaniards went on to control large parts of the first half but failed to convert their chances.
Switzerland came out a more aggressive side in the second half. They began pressing higher and committed more men forward. Spain’s lack of communication in the center of their back four was visible as Aymeric Laporte and Pau Torres seemed very uncomfortable. It was a breakdown of communication between the two that ultimately allowed the Swiss to equalize. Laporte tried to clear his lines but the ball struck Torres and landed kindly for Swiss player Remo Freuler. Freuler then passed it to Xherdan Shaqiri who passed it into the net in the 68th minute.
There was controversy in the 78th minute of the match when Freuler was sent off for a reckless two-legged tackle on Spanish forward Gerard Moreno. It might as well be assumed that Spain was tipped to win the match within the 90 minutes from that point but that was not meant to be.
The Spain players failed to find a way past the well-drilled Swiss defence for 10 minutes, and a shootout was necessary to find who would travel to England’s Wembley stadium. The Swiss had the initial advantage in the shootout as Spain skipper Sergio Busquets struck his shot against the post and Mario Gavranovic put his past the Spanish goalkeeper.
However, that was the only penalty the Swiss managed to score. Schar, Akanji, and Vargas all had their shots either saved or off-target. For the Spanish side, Rodri was the only one apart from Busquets who failed to make the most out of their spot-kick. Mikel Oyarzabal, Gerard Moreno, and Dani Olmo successfully slotted their chances home to help their side qualify to the semi-finals of Euro 2020.