Switzerland 1 v 1 Poland (4 v 5 Pens) – Euro 2016 Last 16

SUI 1:1 POL (4:5 on pens) – the first knockout tie of the tournament proved to be an enthralling encounter at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Étienne, with Adam Nawałka‘s Polish side yet to concede so far in the competition. The Poles had much the better of a first half that saw Vladimir Petković‘s Swiss side set up extremely narrow. Tucked in too tightly in midfield, the Swiss allowed the Poles to get the ball into wide areas too often. Cultured Sevilla No.10 Grzegorz Krychowiak was sensational in the middle of the park (100% pass accuracy in the opening 30 minutes from over 20 passes) and should have given his side the lead but headed wide when it looked easier to score. Arek Milik then blazed the ball over from a knockdown from fellow strike partner Robert Lewandowski as the Poles looked the more likely. An incisive counter attack down the left from Kamil Grosicki opened up the Swiss defence, and the Stade Rennais FC man’s ball picked out Kuba Błaszczykowski who clinically finished past Yann Sommer to give the Poles a deserved lead. It was a completely different game in the 2nd half as the Swiss abandoned their cautious approach and pushed their dangerous fullbacks further forward. VfL Wolfsburg‘s Ricardo Rodríguez enjoying more freedom to threaten down the left flank. Xherdan Shaqiri also came alive after the break, his stinging 25 yard drive was punched clear by Łukasz Fabiański, who then saved wonderfully from a curling free kick from Rodriguez to keep his side ahead. Haris Seferovic then thundered the ball against the crossbar as the Poles started to sit far too deep to protect their lead. It was Stoke City Football Club‘s Shaqiri that became his country’s hero, connecting beautifully with an acrobatic overhead kick to equalise for the Swiss – a real contender for goal of the tournament. What a strike! The Swiss enjoyed 80% possession in the 2nd half while the Poles faded as the pressure mounted. A poor first period of extra time came and went – there were a lot of tired legs and many turned their attention to the realistic prospect of penalties. Shaqiri took the game to the Poles once more – a classic Cruyff turn outwitting two Polish defenders before his cross was headed wide by Seferovic. Shaqiri then picked out substitute Eren Derdiyok all alone in the penalty area – his header back across goal was magnificently tipped wide by Fabianski, heroic stuff from the Swansea City Football Club stopper. For all the pressure the Poles came under, centre back pairing Michał Pazdan and Kamil Glik were outstanding. Pazdan’s block of Derdiyok’s shot crucial for his side in the final minutes. A misunderstanding at the back for the Swiss nearly gifted the Poles an unlikely winner in the final seconds as Grzegorz Krychowiak‘s deflected poke somehow was cleared by the Swiss defence. Penalties were required as both sets of fans looked agonisingly on. Arsenal-bound Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka, who has had a poor tournament for me, blazed horribly wide. The Poles served up 5 perfect penalties and the Swiss bow out in the cruellest of ways. They will be disappointed as they had plenty of chances to win the game late on. The Poles make more history and look forward to a spectacular quarter final against either Croatia or Portugal.

Man of the Match: Łukasz Fabiański
Best: Łukasz FabiańskiGrzegorz KrychowiakKamil GrosickiKamil GlikMichał PazdanXherdan ShaqiriRicardo Rodríguez

‪#‎Euro2016‬ ‪#‎SUIvPOL‬

xherdan-shaqiri

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