The Euro 2020 knockout stage continues to deliver drama at the highest level, and the first quarterfinal was another nail-biter that ended with Luis Enrique’s Spain advancing to the semifinal thanks to a penalty shootout victory over 10-man Switzerland after a 120-minute battle in St. Petersburg, with Barcelona’s Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Pedri in the starting lineup.
Spain started brightly and scored right away, with Alba attempting a long shot that deflected off Zakaria and went in for the opener.
The perfect start for Spain!— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 2, 2021
Great technique from Jordi Alba pic.twitter.com/j1K35Xw2LI
La Roja were the better team throughout the first half but couldn’t put together enough offense to find a second goal, and Switzerland were dangerous enough on the counter to show they were still in it.
And thanks to a bad mistake at the back between Aymeric Laporte and Pau Torres, the Swiss were gifted an equalizer and Xherdan Shaqiri didn’t waste it.
Remo Freuler was sent off 10 minutes after Shaqiri’s goal for a bad tackle on Gerard Moreno, and Switzerland survived with ten men until the end of regulation. Extra-time was to follow, as well as a 30-minute siege from Spain who created big chance after big chance to win but couldn’t, and Yan Sommer made some ridiculous saves to keep the Swiss alive.
Yann Sommer is making saves with his face now pic.twitter.com/de6381NCmZ— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 2, 2021
To penalties it went, and things didn’t start well for Spain as Sergio Busquets missed his spot kick and Gavranovic put Switzerland ahead. But Unai Simón came up big and saved the next two Swiss penalties, both Dani Olmo and Gerard scored for La Roja, and after an awful miss from Vargas it was time for Mikel Oyarzabal to step up and send Spain to Wembley.
Spain are through after another battle and will face the winner of Belgium vs Italy in the semifinal. If the first two knockout games are any indication, that will be dramatic as well.