Spain hold their nerve to reach semi-finals and end battling Switzerland’s run
02-Jul-2021 19:04:00 | The Guardian
This time, penalties were a bridge too far for Switzerland. They took Spain all the way, riding their luck with a heroic rearguard action after Remo Freuler was sent off towards the end of normal time, but it is Luis Enrique’s side who stand two wins from European supremacy. In truth Spain were largely disappointing, failing to build on Denis Zakaria’s early own goal and deservedly being pegged back by Xherdan Shaqiri. But they held their nerve in a shootout full of tired spot kicks, missing two of their own but pulling through when Mikel Oyarzabal scored after Ruben Vargas blazed horribly over.
Given the Swiss conceded so quickly, the fear for them was that, even taking into account the late heroics they produced against France, their tilt at a first semi-final could be over as soon as it began. The manner in which they went behind felt particularly unfortunate given Zakaria was playing only because of Granit Xhaka’s absence, a harsh consequence of receiving two yellow cards earlier in the tournament. Nobody who watched Xhaka pull the midfield strings so masterfully in Bucharest had doubted that, no matter how many bullish noises might emanate from the Swiss camp, he would be sorely missed but the point was hammered home cruelly.
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