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Switzerland-Spain Euro 2020 score: Penalty joy for Spaniards as they outlast Yann Sommer, move to semifinals

Switzerland were unable to repeat their penalty shootout shock from the round of 16 as Spain reached the Euro 2020 semifinals from the spot after a 1-1 draw between the two countries.

An early own goal by Denis Zakaria, the 10th scored at Euro 2020, had Spain set fair for the semifinals, but they failed to turn their possession into the shooting opportunities they had registered throughout the tournament so far and instead found themselves ground down by a flurry of Swiss set pieces that eventually set the stage for a blunder at the back that unleashed Xherdan Shaqiri to draw the Swiss level.

Remo Freuler’s red card 13 minutes from full time rather neutered Vladimir Petkovic’s men as an attacking force, but desperate last-ditch defending coupled with the sort of wasteful finishing, Spain were supposed to have shaken off in this tournament took Switzerland to their second penalty shootout of the tournament.

Spain had hit their attacking groove in this tournament, scoring five goals in back-to-back games against Slovakia and Croatia that reflected the unrewarded dominance they had shown earlier in Euro 2020. Their form in front of goal seemed to be continuing when Jordi Alba’s volley from the edge of the box flew in off a clumsy boot by Denis Zakaria to hand Luis Enrique’s side the lead after just eight minutes.

Still, Zakaria was spurned on by that early setback and rose in the game along with his teammates, who for much of the first half were able to keep Spain just about far away enough from their goal. The game might have been gone for Switzerland if Cesar Azpilicueta had converted an unmarked header midway through the first half, but as the game wore on toward the hour-mark, such opportunities became ever more infrequent at their end.

Meanwhile Switzerland, whose threat on the counter seemed to have been neutered by an early injury to Breel Embolo, grew in menace. First that came from free-kicks and dead balls, but after the hour-mark, they created their first impressive chance from open play in the 64th minute, substitute Ruben Vargas slipping in Steven Zuber just outside the Spanish six-yard box. A poked shot with his right boot from close range asked a great deal of Unai Simon but the Athletic Bilbao man was up to the challenge.

There was nothing he could do to rectify the mistakes of those ahead of him soon after when Aymeric Laporte and Pau Torres muddled up a clearance. Remo Freuler snuck in to steal the ball and tee up Shaqiri, whose scuffed drive with his right foot brought him a fourth goal of the tournament.

For a moment it seemed the Swiss, who had shown such spirit and intent to knock out France in the round of 16, might sense another upset. Ricardo Rodriguez proved to be a menace down the left while Shaqiri was suddenly everywhere. But as soon as they had their boot on Spain a stray pair of them by Freuler cost them dearly.

The Atalanta midfielder might feel entitled to be miffed that a firm tackle on Gerard Moreno brought a straight red but it was a wild lunge that hit his opponent at ankle height. If nothing else, it challenged referee Michael Oliver, who after a swift VAR check stood by his initial decision.

That set the scene for an extra time dominated by Spanish pressure on Sommer’s goal. The Borussia Monchengladbach veteran keeper did well to tip a swerving Alba drive over his bar before holding onto Marcos Llorente’s header from the resulting corner. Moreno, on for Alvaro Morata, should have done far better than volley straight at the goalkeeper 10 minutes into extra time as those familiar woes in front of goal seemed to be emerging again for La Furia Roja.

Sommer was not the only one performing heroics in pursuit of a shootout, Rodriguez appearing from nowhere to block Koke’s shot from close range. A shootout was almost the worst scenario imaginable for a Spain side that had missed their last five in international football and were pitted against one of Europe’s top goalkeepers from 12 yards out.

The nerves seemed to be getting to them when Sergio Busquets hit the post and Sommer parried from Rodri, brought on specifically to take a penalty, but Unai Simon kept his team in the contest by blocking poor efforts from Fabian Schar and Manuel Akanji. When Ruben Vargas spooned his over the bar it was down to Mikel Oyarzabal, whose firmly struck effort fired Spain to a semi final against Italy or Belgium.




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