From schlemiel to hero: Unai Simon saves Spain in penalty…

The Red Devils know their potential opponent in the semi-finals of the European Championship. It has cost blood, sweat and tears, but Spain secured a place in the last four at EURO 2021 against Switzerland after extra time and penalties.

Against Switzerland, La Furia Roja lived up to its name. The Spaniards started furiously and took the lead after eight minutes on Friday evening. The twelfth goal of the Spaniards at this European Championship was credited to a Swiss. After a good corner from Koke, Jordi Alba was able to score from the edge of the box. Denis Zakaria deviated the ball past his own goalkeeper. The third own goal in favor of the Spaniards at this European Championship.

Photo: Pool via REUTERS

After that it was all a lot less furious. The Spaniards were able to play their favorite game: tap the ball around and patiently search for the opening. Only the visitors created very little in the first half. The same could be said of the Swiss. Before half-time, the home team barely even touched the ball – as evidenced by 29 percent possession at half-time. The Swiss did not get further than a few header chances on corners. Halfway through the first half, Unai Simon, who already cost Spain a goal against Croatia through a blunder, seemed to help the home team by playing very nonchalantly. The Spaniards got away well.

After the break, Luis Enrique threw Dani Olmo into the squad for Pablo Sarabia. For a moment, the RB Leipzig attacker seemed to bring more flair to the Spaniards’ game. Although it was mainly the Swiss who came out of the dressing room more eagerly. Shaqiri and co. showed themselves sharper than in the first half and kept decorating corners. Zakaria barely saw his header fly wide of Simon’s cage.

After the Swiss have already knocked France out of the tournament, they are now clearly smoking a new stunt. Just past the hour, Vargas, who had replaced the injured Embolo before half-time, sent the running Zuber into the deep. Unai Simon had to make his first save of the game. A much needed one.

Stay of execution

However, it was nothing more than a stay of execution. After a misunderstanding between Pau Torres and Aymeric Laporte, Remo Freuler Spain nicked the ball on the edge of the box. Atalanta’s midfielder served Shaqiri who easily put the ball past Simon. Twenty minutes before time to redo everything for the Spaniards.

From schlemiel to hero: Unai Simon saves Spain in penalty shootout against Switzerland
Photo: Pool via REUTERS

Fifteen minutes before the end, the Swiss hit again, albeit this time in their own foot. Remo Freuler, the man of the good interception at the 1-1, went fierce in the tackle, hit the ball, but also the legs of substitute Gerard Moreno. Michael Oliver thanked him with red.

Switzerland survived the final quarter, but now had to start extra time with ten. Luis Enrique had clearly awakened his men before the start of extra time. Spain finally started its final offensive. Yann Sommer now saw one ball after another coming towards him. Especially from the foot of the well-subbed Mikel Oyarzabal. In the meantime, the Swiss had barely reached the halfway mark.

The Spanish pressure continued in the second half of the extra time as well. Moreno, Torres, Olmo: none of the Spanish attackers managed to outwit Sommer. Miraculously, the Swiss held out with ten men. A penalty shootout had to make the decision. Spain took the lead in this.



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