After a crazy Round of 16, the expectations were high at Saint Petersburg when the giant killers Switzerland faced rejuvenated Spain. The match lacked the tempo and intensity like the nerve-wracking affairs in the Round of 16, but still, the fighting spirit of the Swiss took them a long way – only if they maintained their nerves during the penalty shootout, history would have been different.

Both teams tried to stamp authority from the word go.

Pablo Sarabia stumbles down the inside left for Spain but was dispossessed by Switzerland right-back Silvan Widmar. Switzerland broke up the field and Xherdan Shaqiri tried his luck from distance. Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon saved comfortably.

Spain settled on the ball and controlled the possession.

The ball was played long towards Sarabia in the corner but Ricardo Rodriguez leaps to intercept with a header.

The Swiss advanced forward and Widmar squared the ball for Zakiria on the gallop from midfield but his delivery is intercepted. Switzerland looked dangerous on the break.

Spain won a corner which was an outswinger and the ball broke to Jordi Alba outside the Swiss penalty area. His shot took a wicked deflection off Zakaria, leaving Yann Sommer with no chance whatsoever.

The spectators had not yet taken their respective seats and Spain was leading by 1-0.

Ferran Torres gave the ball away to Steven Zuber after failing to collect a cross-field pass and the Swiss left-back attempted to square it for Shaqiri just outside the Spain penalty area. His pass was intercepted and cleared.

Unai Simon made pig’s ear of clearance under pressure from the high Swiss press and Spain conceded a corner on the back of his mini-panic – the corner produced nothing.

The game was not yet thirty minutes and the Swiss had to bring Ruben Vargas on for Breel Embolo, who succumbed to a hamstring injury.

Switzerland went behind the ball a bit to get into their groove and come back and in the meantime, Sommer had a busy time – Cesar Azpilicueta got a free header from the corner but powered his effort straight at Sommer.

Spain continued to dominate with the Swiss offering very little in the way of a threat – there were strings of corner for the Swiss that produced nothing and it seemed, the vim and vigour were missing hugely.

After the break, Switzerland tried regaining their tempo and the buildup was steady and after an hour the deadlock was broken.

Pau Torres and Aymeric Laporte got themselves in an awful mess under very little pressure at the back, with one clanking a loose ball off the other’s shins, allowing Remo Freuler to nip between them, stole it and squared for Shaqiri. The Swiss captain had the simple task of slotting home from seven or eight yards out.

The comeback was ensured and the Swiss energy was evident when they broke upfield with Zakaria and Zuber combining. There was a real spring in the collective Swiss step after they were gifted that equalizer.

Just when the Swiss tempo was building up, Remo Frueler was shown a dubious red card following a VAR check for sliding in with a late challenge on Gerard Moreno.

Switzerland were down to ten men and made a double substitution: Mario Gavranovic and Djibril Sow were on for Seferovic and Shaqiri.

The Swiss had set up with two banks of four across the park, with Gavranovic up front on his own. A combative midfielder who played for Eintracht Frankfurt, Sow has replaced the more creative Shaqiri.

The game went to extra-time and on the edge of the six-yard box, Gerard Moreno somehow failed to convert a wonderful, low Jordi Alba cross from the left. He shinned the ball wide when scoring looked easier.

It was time for Sommer to deny Spain.

He was forced to save well from Jordi Alba, tipping over the bar. Moreno was denied again, Sommer saving brilliantly from a close range as the Spaniard swung his foot at a breaking ball after a pass through the centre. From the ensuing corner, Sommer punched clear.

Another Swiss double-substitution: Kevin Mbabu and Fabian Schar on for Silvan Widmar and Denis Zakaria. Switzerland now had more players on the pitch that began the game on the subs bench than players who started the game: 6 vs 4.

Rodriguez, who enjoyed an outstanding game, slid in to block brilliantly from Marcos Llorente as the Spaniard pulled the trigger a couple of yards inside the Switzerland box. Dani Olmo ran on to a pull-back from the byline and drove a low shot straight at Sommer.

Spain were throwing everything at the Swiss, but they were resilient and focused to weather the storm with ten men.

The Swiss clung on after an impromptu pin-ball session in their penalty area ended with the ball going out for a corner. It’s delivered to the near post, where Busquets’ flick-on was collected by Sommer.

Moreno won the possession in midfield, charged forward and shot low from outside the Swiss penalty area. Sommer saved comfortably.

The match would be decided by a penalty shootout.


The Swiss had been outstanding against France and struck five out of five, but at Saint Petersburg, they lost their composure and executed poor penalties. Clearly, they were nervous and it cost them the spot in the semifinals.

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