NEWS
Saturday June 25 2016
Poland sink Switzerland on pens

Poland are through to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals after beating Switzerland on penalties, but Xherdan Shaqiri scored the goal of the tournament.

They will go on to face Croatia or Portugal in Marseille on June 30.

The first game in the Round of 16 saw Switzerland bring back Haris Seferovic to the starting XI, while Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was still out injured. Bartosz Kaputska sat out a ban for Poland.

Within 25 seconds Poland had wasted two golden opportunities to score. Robert Lewandowski intercepted a poor back-pass to force a save and Arkadiusz Milik ballooned the follow-up over an open goal.

They missed another sitter with Grzegorz Krychowiak’s free header from a corner and Kamil Grosicky fired over. Switzerland’s first real chance was on 35 minutes, a Fabian Schär free header straight at Lukasz Fabianski, followed by Blerim Dzemaili’s deflected effort fingertipped over the bar.

Just as Switzerland seemed to be coming out of their shell, Poland struck on the counter. Grosicki ran on to a very long throw, Milik’s dummy allowing the ball through for Fiorentina winger Jakub Blaszczykowski’s nutmeg on the goalkeeper.

Several Swiss shots were charged down and after the restart Xherdan Shaqiri wreaked havoc with a pull-back from the by-line. Confidence was not high for Switzerland, who hadn’t won the knockout tie in a major tournament since the 1938 World Cup.

There were saves at either end on strikes from Shaqiri and Blaszczykowski, but Schär was booked for an extremely late tackle on Lewandowski.

Fabianski flew to fingertip a Ricardo Rodriguez free kick out of the near top corner, then on 78 minutes Haris Seferovic smacked a shot against the crossbar.

The Swiss pressure finally paid off with an absolutely spectacular goal. At the edge of the box Xherdan Shaqiri performed a pitch-perfect over-head bicycle-kick, so pending something extraordinary, that’s the goal of the tournament.

Poland were visibly tiring fast, yet didn’t make any substitutions as the game went to extra time in the heat of Saint-Etienne.

Switzerland continued to look the most menacing and had a great chance to win it, but Fabianski performed a desperate save one-on-one as Derdiyok got his head to an inspired Shaqiri pass.

After 117 minutes of football, Seferovic’s cross from the left found Derdiyok, but he couldn’t get the final touch from point-blank range. Moments later some scrappy defending saw the ball break kindly for Poland, but nobody could take advantage.

The deadlock could not be broken and it went to penalties. It was Poland’s first, while the Swiss missed all three kicks in their only shoot-out against Ukraine in the 2006 World Cup.

Granit Xhaka blasted well wide of the target and Milik was fortunate that Fabianski got his hand to it without actually making a save. Poland ultimately converted all five of their penalties and go through to the quarter-finals.

Switzerland 1-1 Poland (aet, 4-5 on pens)

Blaszczykowski 39 (P), Shaqiri 82 (S)

Penalties: Lichtsteiner (S, goal), Lewandowski (P, goal), Xhaka (S, miss), Milik (P, goal), Shaqiri (S, goal), Glik (P, goal), Schär (S, goal), Blaszczykowski (P, goal), Rodriguez (S, goal), Kryochowiak (P, goal)

Switzerland: Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Djourou, Rodriguez; Behrami, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Dzemaili (Embolo 58), Mehmedi (Derdiyok 70); Seferovic

Poland: Fabianski; Piszczek, Glik, Pazdan, Jedrzejczyk; Blaszczykowski, Kryochowiak, Maczynski (Jodlowiec 101), Grosicki (Peszko 104); Milik; Lewandowski

Ref: Clattenburg (ENG)

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