England outlasted Switzerland in a penalty shootout on Saturday to advance in Euro 2024 and reach the semifinals.

Much of the pregame talk of the matchup surrounded England manager Gareth Southgate’s proposed lineup.

The coach eventually opted for three center backs, rather than a more traditional back four with two central defenders. The decision was fueled by Marc Guehi’s absence due to suspension. Guehi missed the match on Saturday after picking up two yellow cards at the tournament.

Switzerland manager Murat Yakin also generally goes with a back three as well. In fact, the Swiss starting XI on Saturday was the same lineup that essentially dominated Italy last weekend. Southgate’s choice to change formation would also better match his opponents in the matchup.

Many assumed typical winger Bukayo Saka would be utilized by Southgate as a left wing back. Nevertheless, the Arsenal star featured on the right hand side in front of center back for the day Kyle Walker. Kieran Trippier, on the other hand, featured as a wing back on the left side of the pitch.

Neither team managed shot on target in first half

Outside of the lineups, the actual match started pretty much as expected. The two teams essentially shared the possession and traded tame efforts at goal in the opening stages of the first half. The tactical battle was on from the start. Both sides were seemingly satisfied with a compact clash, particularly in the middle of the pitch.

England did begin to turn the screw a bit as the opening period progressed. The Three Lions racked up 55% possession during this timeframe and regularly opted to feed Saka out on the right side of the pitch. The versatile star led all players in the first half with four dribbles. A majority of these successes came up against Michel Aebischer.

Nevertheless, England could not manage to create much of a real threat to Yann Sommer in the Swiss goal. In fact, neither side even recorded a shot on target during the entire first half. It certainly appeared as if the two managers were happy with a more defensive outlook.

Saka saves England after Switzerland scores opening goal

While England showed signs of encouragement in the first half, Switzerland seemed to settle a bit in the second period. Striker Breel Embolo finally recorded the game’s first shot on target with a decent effort in the 51st minute. The ball, however, went straight to Jordan Pickford in England’s goal.

Embolo then found himself in a perfect place to send a header towards the net just six minutes later. Nevertheless, England center back Ezri Konza snuffed out the dangerous play with some top defending.

Despite the missed opportunities, the third time was a charm for the Swiss striker. Embolo netted the opening goal of the game in the 75th minute after a continued push forward from the group. Dan Ndoye initiated the scoring chance with a low cross in front of the face of England’s goal. English defender John Stones stretched out a leg in an attempt to block the pass, but failed. Instead, the ball eventually landed to Embolo and the star would not miss from just a few feet away.

England, however, immediately fought back through Saka. The young star leveled the scoreline just five minutes later with an arrowing strike from distance. Saka picked up possession out on the flank, cut back in, and struck a shot from just outside of the box. The shot somehow missed all of the Swiss defenders, hit the inside of the far post, and into Sommer’s net. It was England first shot on target in the game.

Pickford makes only save in the penalty shootout as England reach Euro semifinals

With the game level after 90 minutes, the contest would go on to extra time. Despite an additional 30 minutes on the clock, neither team managed to score in the period. Both sets of players appeared to be fairly exhausted ahead of the penalty shootout. A similar instance occurred just on Friday between France and Portugal. The lethargic finish to the match has made some question the point of extra time.

England eventually edged out the victory in the penalty shootout. The Three Lions triumphed thanks to a save from Pickford in Switzerland’s first shot from the spot. Manchester City defender Manuel Akanji sent a fairly weak effort towards goal and the Everton star easily blocked the ball. England, on the other hand, converted all five of their penalty shots. Southgate’s team will next face the winner of the Netherlands and Turkey in the semifinals.

Photo credits: IMAGO / Pro Sports Images