Goalkeeper Unai Simon was the hero as Spain edged past 10-man Switzerland 3-1 on penalties on Friday to set up a Euro 2020 semi-final against either Belgium or Italy.
After a 1-1 draw in Saint Petersburg which saw the Swiss play for 43 minutes a man down, Simon made two saves in the shoot-out to help keep Spain’s bid for a record fourth European crown alive.
It was heartbreak for Switzerland, who were bidding for reach the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time in their history.
Spain forged ahead early on when Denis Zakaria put through his own net, but Switzerland were the better side for long periods and Xherdan Shaqiri, standing in for the suspended Granit Xhaka as captain, equalised in the 68th minute.
The Swiss were reduced to 10 men with 13 minutes remaining, though, when midfielder Remo Freuler was controversially dismissed for a tackle on Gerard Moreno.
Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer, the hero of the penalty shoot-out win over world champions France in the last 16, made a string of fine saves in extra time.
But Simon saved from Fabian Schaer and Manuel Akanji, while Ruben Vargas blazed over in a tense finale as Spain snuck through, with Mikel Oyarzabal smashing home the winning spot-kick.
Luis Enrique’s men will take on either Belgium or Italy, who meet in Munich later Friday, at Wembley on Tuesday.
After scoring 10 goals in their previous two matches, this was a return to the type of profligate performances which saw Spain draw their first two group games against Sweden and Poland.
But the 2008 and 2012 winners had made a dream start to this quarter-final, taking the lead in fortunate circumstances in only the eighth minute.
A corner was cleared only as far as Jordi Alba, whose left-footed volley was diverted past Sommer by Switzerland midfielder Zakaria, only playing in place of Xhaka.
It was the 10th own goal of Euro 2020, more than the other 15 editions combined.
Alvaro Morata wasted an excellent opportunity by heading too close to Sommer when unmarked, but then Switzerland started to grow into the game.
Silvan Widmer headed off target from a corner, before Steven Zuber thought he had won a penalty only to be flagged offside.
Spain coach Luis Enrique sent on Dani Olmo for Pablo Sarabia at half-time and the RB Leipzig man threatened inside 60 seconds, seeing his low volley well held by Sommer.
Zakaria came agonisingly close to making up for his earlier own goal when his header span narrowly wide.
Switzerland had an even better chance for a leveller in the 64th minute, as Shaqiri sparked a quick counter-attack which ended with Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon reacting well to keep out Zuber’s stabbed effort at his near post.
– Shaqiri strikes –
But the underdogs found the equaliser they deserved four minutes later, as Freuler latched onto a loose ball after a mix-up in the Spanish defence and squared for Shaqiri to slot into the far corner and score his third goal of the tournament.
The pattern of the game changed in the 77th minute though, when referee Michael Oliver gave Freuler his marching orders for a sliding challenge on Spanish substitute Moreno.
Switzerland managed to keep Spain at bay until the end of normal time with relative ease, but in the third minute of the additional half an hour Moreno should have put Spain back in front, only to miskick Alba’s cross wide from close range.
Switzerland were perhaps lucky not to have another man sent off shortly afterwards, when Widmer escaped a second yellow card for a cynical foul on Olmo.
Moreno somehow passed up another golden opportunity, denied at point-blank range by Sommer, before the Borussia Moenchengladbach stopper made an excellent diving save from Oyarzabal.
Sommer made eight saves in extra time alone, but his one in the shoot-out from Rodri was not enough, despite Sergio Busquets also hitting the post, as Switzerland missed three of their four penalties.
For more authentic news follow our social media platforms
Paul Onuora Football Tournament Begins
By Esther Kainebi-Daniel
Committed to promoting unity among Nigerians through sports, especially football and empowering more than 500 youths between ages 15 and 17, the maiden edition of Hon. Paul Onuora and St. Eve football competition, has commenced.
Dubbed Hon. Paul Onuora League Tournament, the football competition which began on Sunday with the official flag-off and unveiling of the participating teams from across 20 local government areas in Lagos is taking place at three venues – The Training Pitch, National Stadium; Eagles Club football field, and the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) field, all in Surulere, Lagos.
At the flag-off ceremony the sponsor, Hon. Paul Onuora aka Nwa Jesus said the tournament is a vehicle to extract the best potential from the youths, stressing that it doesn’t matter who the youths are, where they come from or the tribe they are of.
His words: “What matters is how those youth become successful in life, and when they become successful, the new life, they will live. Even if he touches 10 people, their lives will be changed because he has succeeded.
“That’s why anytime, anyday, in my closet, anywhere I’m, I think about how we can better the life of the youth, not even of you going to lie for the poor people in our society. This is very important.”
Asked his expectations from the participants, Onuora said, “I expect them to be of good behaviour, character and association. You can’t be a youth maybe playing football or any other sports and you are into drugs, cultism, armed robbery and other nefarious activities. You cannot succeed because you will go half way.”
“If you are a youth, you have talents, you have good behaviour, you will go far even in the shortest of time, because there is nobody that will see you as a hard working young man that will say no, I will not take this. Anybody who sees you would like to associate with you because of your character and your behaviour,” he added.
On what motivated him to finance the tournament, the businessman, who also plays active football and recently scored against one-time Nigeria number one choice goalkeeper, Peter Rufai aka Dodo Mayana said, “Beyond the tournament, we want to expose the participants to scouts from Europe.
“We are bringing in some managers, scouts that will be looking for players. Some of them are playing football but they have not really played in a good competition. So if they play this competition they will be exposed and they will have more sense of belonging because they will meet people they have not one way or the other interacted with. Because I believe this is from all the local governments and they will see more players that are more talented than them, which will inspire them to do more in what we are doing.”
On her part, Evelyn Okereke, founder of St. Eve, and brain behind the league tournament said the initiative is to encourage the youths, keep them busy during this long vacation, adding that they could play this competition and get opportunities.
He words, “You see what’s happening in Nigeria. As a mother, we thought of a way to help bring our youths and close that gap between the rich and the poor, and there is no better way than sport. Sport (football) is something that is very unique and is a unifying force.”
“Football is one of the biggest sports in the world. Whether you’re a man or you’re a woman, you know when your club or team is winning, you’re jumping and you’re excited; you’re all sharing ideas. Very soon we’re going to be having people worshipping football. It’s going to be the latest thing in the world,” she added.
How Moroccan Footballer’s Wife Discoverd In Divorce Suit Husband Has Nothing Despite Making Millions
Moroccan international, Achraf Hakimi owns nothing to his name despite earning millions of Euros with Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and the Moroccan national football team, his wife Hiba Abouk has discovered.
Abouk filed for divorce and asked for half of all the property and money owned by Hakimi.
She, however, discovered during ongoing divorce proceedings in court that Hakimi, 24, had registered all his properties and monies in his mother’s name.
Whenever the Moroccan footballer needed anything, he would ask his mother to buy it for him, it was revealed.
All his houses, cars, clothes, and jewellery were found to be in his mother’s name, and millions in salary were deposited in accounts bearing his mother’s name.
It was reported that 80 percent of all that he owns is registered in his mother’s name.
The couple began dating in 2018, married in 2020 and have two sons. She filed for divorce around March 2023.
30 percent of Pele’s Assets Go To Widow – lawyer
The 30 percent of the assets of the late legendary footballer Pele will go to his wife,according to his will disclosed by his lawyer.
The will states that Marcia Cibele Aoki, Pele’s third and last wife, will inherit his mansion in Guaruja, a seaside resort town south of Sao Paulo, where the couple lived, according to her lawyer Luiz Kignel.
Other assets belonging to Pele, who died after battling cancer in late December at age 82, include more real estate and a stake in the Pele brand, Kignel said, adding that a complete inventory has yet to be made.
The remaining 70 percent is reserved for Pele’s children, including an unrecognized daughter that he may have.
“He indicated the possibility of the existence of another daughter, whose recognition will depend on a DNA test, which could not be carried out (on Pele) due to the pandemic and the state of his health,” said Kignel.
According to Kignel, the woman in question is a Brazilian national and she has taken legal steps to be recognized as Pele’s daughter.
In September 2022, a court in Sao Paulo ordered Pele to submit to a DNA test, according to the G1 website. The test must now be performed on one of his seven recognized children.
NEW TIMES CULTURE
‘Governor Abiodun Committed To Rule Of Law, Democracy’
How To Enter Sapele And Warri From Benin Now (1)
The Witch, The Pentecostal, And Jungle Justice
Why GOFAMINT General Overseer Demoted His Deputy
BREAKING: UK Suspends Work, Study, Family Visas For Nigerians Over Ukraine War
BREAKING: First Nigerian Female Vice Chancellor Alele-Williams Is Dead
Opinion4 days ago
Mohbad: When Love And Light Are Not Enough
Opinion3 days ago
Poisoning And Witchcraft Accusations In Africa
Opinion4 days ago
Soyinka And The Gbajue Metaphor
For The Record3 days ago
Socio-cultural And Economic Strides Of Anioma
Politics2 days ago
Obaseki Accepts Deputy Governor Shuaibu’s Apologies