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Euro 2024: SportFive quick hits — England joy after Euro 2024 penalty shooto...

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Published Time: 06.07.2024 - 19:01:40 Modified Time: 06.07.2024 - 19:01:40

Trent Alexander-Arnold slammed home the decisive last of a faultless five to send England into their third semifinal in four tournaments after Jordan Pickford had saved from Manuel Akanji. Euro 2024, Euros, England vs Switzerland, euros 2024, Euro, england euros, England, england v switzerland, england football


Trent Alexander-Arnold slammed home the decisive last of a faultless five to send England into their third semifinal in four tournaments after Jordan Pickford had saved from Manuel Akanji.

In a game of few chances, Breel Embolo had put Switzerland ahead after 75 minutes, with Bukayo Saka brilliantly levelling five minutes later.

England then slotted all of its penalties — just the second time in 10 attempts in international competition it has done so — to progress to the semis.

"Incredible. A lot of practice goes into that moment," Alexander-Arnold said of the penalty he smashed into the top corner. 

"I practice. I knew what spot. I knew I just needed to execute it and I did that."

England came into the game on the back of two dire performances and, though they showed more invention and movement, there was again little end product, and with the Swiss equally cautious, there was barely a meaningful effort on goal for an hour.

Switzerland, impressive victors over Italy last week and seeking their first major semifinal, took the lead when Dan Ndoye whipped in a deflected low cross with Breel Embolo stretching to poke it home.

Southgate responded by immediately throwing on three substitutes — Cole Palmer, Luke Shaw and Eberechi Eze — and five minutes later energised England were level as Saka cut in from the right wing and curled a superb 20-metre left-footed shot in off the far post.

In extra time, England's Declan Rice had a fizzing shot from the edge of the box brilliantly saved by a diving Yann Sommer, while Xherdan Shaqiri clipped a post direct from a corner, before the penalties that had felt inevitable almost from the start duly arrived.

Switzerland had lost three of their four major tournament shootouts, while England's famously uncomfortable record was seven defeats and two wins.

That reads 7-3 now after Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Saka, and Ivan Toney all scored confidently ahead of Alexander-Arnold's finale.

The Swiss also lost in the quarterfinals of the last Euros in a shootout, and coach Murat Yakin said: "After such a performance we didn't deserve to be knocked out.

"We can be really proud of our tournament. To the end we stood as one and the joy we gave to the nation gives a very positive feeling."

An own goal by Mert Muldur completed a Netherlands comeback as they beat Türkiye 2-1 on Saturday to book a Euro 2024 semifinal meeting with England in Dortmund.

Türkiye took the lead in the 35th minute after the Dutch failed to clear a corner, leaving Arda Guler to cross perfectly to the back post with his right foot for defender Samet Akaydin to head home.

Guler went close to adding a second early in the second half when he hit the post with a free kick, and it was to prove a costly miss when Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij equalised with a powerful header in the 70th minute.

That goal gave the Netherlands the lift they needed, Muldur turning the ball into his own net under pressure from Cody Gakpo and the Dutch hung on despite a number of late opportunities for Türkiye.

"This is very important and very beautiful, with such a crowd," Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk said. 

"We knew there would be a lot of Turks in the stadium, but I'm proud of these guys.

"In the end we got sloppy, but actually we didn't give anything away. In the second half, we had to stay calm and take advantage of our chances. Of course, we thought it would be fine, it would be very bad if we didn't think so.

"We are one step closer."

Saka, who missed in England's Euro 2020 final shootout defeat by Italy, stood up again on Saturday and converted confidently in front of a wall of England fans.

His was the decisive penalty in the Euro final in 2021 that was saved to seal the title for Italy at Wembley Stadium.

Saka and fellow Black players Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, who also failed with their spot kicks in that shootout, then received horrific racial abuse on social media as a result.

England's unfamiliar run to a first major final ended in a depressingly familiar way, an agonising defeat that will "hurt like hell" for the rest of their careers.

Saka was 19 at the time, the youngest player in a multi-ethnic England squad that won the hearts of the soccer-mad nation — before the loss to Italy, anyway.

"He is so brave, he's one of our best so we were never in any question that he was going to take one," coach Gareth Southgate said of the midfielder.

"I gave him a massive cuddle on the pitch.

"He's a special boy. He's a dream to work with. Wonderful family. And, of course, you're pleased for everybody, but for him especially when his went in."

Saka, who sunk to his knees in the centre circle when the final spot kick flew in, acknowledged the tough road he had taken to get to this point.

"To come back from something like that was really difficult. I used that to make me stronger. Today I took the chance and I'm happy."

Barely a week after furious fans hurled beer cups and insults at Gareth Southgate, the England manager danced with his players in front of the team's supporters after the thrilling shootout victory.

Southgate's 100th game as England boss was his team's best in an uninspiring tournament that has seen the 53-year-old come under fire and speculation swirl his future in the job.

"Every now and then you think 'Surely there has to be some enjoyment in this job?'," the normally unflappable Southgate said, on letting loose to dance with his players.

"So if I can't enjoy that moment, then the whole thing is a waste of time.

"I love the players, I love being in that moment with them. I took this job to try and improve English football. I wanted us to regain credibility on a world stage. So I can't deny that when it's as personal as it's been in the last few weeks on a human level, that's quite difficult.

"But we're fighting. We're not going to stop fighting. And as I said, we're in another semifinal and we'll see where we can get to.

"These players are showing all those other attributes, dealing with everything that's around us. Twice coming from behind in games, now a penalty shootout where their composure was impeccable. So I'm so, so proud of them.

"We've been in four [shootouts], we've won three. We got absolutely crucified for the one we lost."

Spain midfielder Pedri will miss the remainder of Euro 2024 after suffering a ligament injury in his left knee early in his side's dramatic 2-1 quarter-final win over hosts Germany on Friday.

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Pedri, 21, left the pitch in tears in the first minutes of the match after a heavy challenge by Germany midfielder Toni Kroos.

"Following tests, Pedri has a grade two sprain in the medial collateral ligament of his left knee. The player will remain with his team mates until the end of the current training camp, which is focused on the Euro 2024," the Spanish FA (RFEF) said in a short statement on Saturday.

Kroos, who announced his already-expected retirement from football after Germany's loss, posted a farewell message on his social media accounts in which he also apologised to Pedri.

"I would like to say something very important: I apologise to Pedri and hope he feels better soon! It was obviously not my intention to hurt you. I wish you a speedy recovery and all the best. You are a great player," Kroos said.

Pedri's injury forced Spain manager Luis de la Fuente into an early change, bringing on Dani Olmo, who was named player of the match with a goal and an assist.

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