Bukayo Saka goal, shootout redemption sends England past Switzerland, to Euros semis

Bukayo Saka goal, shootout redemption sends England past Switzerland, to Euros semis

Updated Jul. 6, 2024 2:59 p.m. ET

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — Bukayo Saka was the hero-in-chief as England pulled off another rescue act to beat Switzerland in a penalty shootout on Saturday and advance to the Euro 2024 semifinals.

Saka, who famously missed the final kick of the Euro 2020 final shootout against Italy, held his nerve to help Gareth Southgate's men prevail 5-3, with goalkeeper Jordan Pickford making the lone save from Manuel Akanji.

Earlier, Saka, the Arsenal star who has been one of Southgate's few bright spots in a frustrating and often confounding campaign, struck in the 80th minute with a fine equalizer that sent this quarterfinal into extra time.


It borrowed from the same playbook as the team's dramatic round of 16 win against Slovakia last Sunday, though Saka's effort came far earlier than Jude Bellingham's injury-time stunner on that occasion.

Five minutes earlier, Switzerland had scored with its first serious chance of a tense and tactical encounter. A solid cross from the right was met by the outstretched foot of Breel Embolo, who shrugged off his marker and deflected the ball past Pickford.

That prompted Southgate into making a trio of changes, replacing Ezri Konsa, Kieran Trippier and Kobbie Mainoo with Cole Palmer, Luke Shaw and Ezerechi Eze, hoping to inject some much-needed energy.

It did. Palmer added some quick-footed spice, Shaw was physical despite not having played for five months, and in the end, it was Declan Rice who again found Saka on the right.

There was no attempted cross this time, as he cut inside and curled a left-foot beauty inside the post of Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer.

While overall England looked a little more direct with its new "back three" gameplan, there was still not enough in terms of setting up meaningful chances.

Once again, however, there was a reprieve, and a deep sigh of relief – as extra-time beckoned, with a semifinal place against the winner of the Netherlands v. Turkey on the line.

England has a tortured history with shootouts, but before even getting there the team had to survive some nervous moments against the determined and resolute Swiss.

Xherdan Shaqiri's cheeky effort from a corner kept Pickford on his toes, while Zeki Amdouni forced another save as the minutes wound down.

Harry Kane, despite being the regular penalty taker, was replaced in extra time, exhausted and possibly injured. Phil Foden, another who excels from the spot, came off too.

But Southgate got it right.

Three of his subs scored a penalty. Palmer nervelessly stepped forward to take the first and sent Sommer the wrong way to set the tone. After Jude Bellingham and Saka scored, Toney's aim was true.

Then it was left to Trent Alexander-Arnold, of all people, much-maligned over the experiment of playing him in midfield failed in the first two games.

He didn't fail England this time.

What a finish. 

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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