Granit Xhaka sent his spot kick wide as Poland reached their first ever EURO quarter-final despite being pegged back by an incredible Xherdan Shaqiri strike
Poland are through to the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2016 after defeating Switzerland on penalties at the end of an entertaining 1-1 draw in Saint-Etienne.
Grzegorz Krychowiak rifled the winning spot kick high into the corner to spark an outpouring of joy from his team-mates, who slotted all five of their attempts past Yann Sommer. They duly booked their first last-eight tie at a major tournament since 1982, in a cruel denouement for a Switzerland side that had levelled via a Xherdan Shaqiri wonder goal – before Granit Xhaka sent his penalty wide.
It could have been very different had the Swiss taken their chances, but their opponents were no less culpable on that count. Indeed, Poland so nearly raced into the lead inside the very first minute, Johan Djourou’s under-hit back pass leaving Sommer scrambling to clear – only as far as Arkadiusz Milik, who blazed over an empty net.
The Poland forward headed straight at Sommer from a corner just minutes later and also fired too high when picked out at the far post. The pressure, however, was building and Jakub Błaszczykowski gave Adam Nawałka’s men a deserved advantage as half-time neared.
The lively Kamil Grosicki was the initiator, breaking down the left at pace. Although fortunate with a clumsy touch, he found Błaszczykowski with a fine ball to the back post and the unmarked Fiorentina midfielder slotted in for his second goal in two games.
Prior to UEFA EURO 2016 Poland had never won a finals game (D3 L3), now they have reached the quarter-finals after going four games unbeaten in France.(Picture Courtesy: UEFA)
Switzerland were in trouble, their much-heralded midfield struggling to sparkle, yet they rallied after the interval as Shaqiri stung Łukasz Fabiański’s palms. Fabiański then did brilliantly to get his fingertips to a Ricardo Rodríguez free-kick, before Haris Seferović clattered an effort against the bar.
That was beginning to look as close as the Swiss would come, but Shaqiri had a surprise in store, burying a brilliant scissor kick in off the post after a Stephan Lichtsteiner cross had been half-cleared. It was Shaqiri and Co who brought the greater menace in extra time as well, and it took another excellent Fabiański save – from substitute Eren Derdiyok’s header – to earn Poland their opportunity to shine from the spot.
Man of the match: Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland)
Report courtesy to UEFA Euro Release