UEFA Euro 2016
Round of 16
Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne, France
Poland win 5-4 on penalties
Poland progressed into the Quarter-finals of the European Championships for the first time after beating Switzerland 5-4 on penalties at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Étienne.
A first-half strike, six minutes before the break from Jakub Błaszczykowski had put Poland ahead before an exquisite acrobatic effort from Xherdan Shaqiri levelled the scores eight minutes from normal time. That was before Grzegorz Krychowiak scored the winning penalty after Granit Xhaka missed his spot-kick.
Poland started well and should have taken the lead in the first 25 seconds when a Johan Djourou backpass was short and Robert Lewandowski almost nipped in, but Yann Sommer made a vital interception, but could only divert the ball into the path of Arkadiusz Milik, who had the goal at his mercy but he curled his effort off-target.
Switzerland went close in the ninth minute when Shaqiri found Blerim Džemaili but he could only find the side-netting from a tight-angle.
Poland had a good chance to take the lead in the 28th minute when Krychowiak met a Milik corner but headed wide despite having a free header. Two minutes later, they went close when Lewandowski found Kamil Grosicki with a fine pass but the latter’s first-time effort cleared the bar. Two minutes later, Poland went close again. After a Shaqiri freekick was cleared Poland broke with Błaszczykowski finding Milik whose effort was always rising.
Two minutes later, Switzerland had a good chance when a Ricardo Rodríguez corner fell to Fabian Schär but his header bounced into the ground before Łukasz Fabiański made a straightforward save, although he should have been tested. Three minutes later, Switzerland went close when Džemaili cut inside before firing a deflected effort that Fabiański had to tip over the bar. From the resulting corner, Poland scored.
After Djourou’s two headers were blocked from the corner, Poland broke with Grosicki who was fortunate to get away with a lucky ricochet before finding Błaszczykowski who composed himself before slotting home through the legs of Sommer.
Four minutes into the restart, Poland went close to making it two. Grosicki did well to surge forward before Lewandowski took the ball off him and unleashed a snapshot that Sommer claimed at the second-attempt.
A minute later, Switzerland went close when Shaqiri surged forward before curling an effort that Fabiański was forced to palm away.
Poland went close two minutes later when Błaszczykowski surged forward before cutting inside to fire an effort that Sommer had to palm behind.
In the 72nd minute Switzerland went close to finding a leveller when a goal-bound Rodríguez freekick was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Fabiański.
Six minutes later, Switzerland nearly found the equaliser when a Shaqiri delivery from a freekick eventually found Djourou whose effort was blocked before the ball fell to Haris Seferović who rattled the bar with a rasping strike.
The goal was coming for Switzerland and in the 82nd minute, they got their just rewards for a better performance in the second-half. A Stephan Lichtsteiner cross was flicked on by Seferović into the path of substitute Eren Derdiyok who nodded the ball into the path of Shaqiri who volleyed home exquisitely with a fine acrobatic effort.
The game eventually went to Extra-Time and after quite a dismal first period, Switzerland went close to taking the lead in the 22nd minute of Extra-Time when Shaqiri found Derdiyok who did well to stay onside and had just Fabiański to beat but his header was brilliantly palmed away by the keeper.
The game then went to the lottery of a penalty shootout where the unfortunate Xhaka fired horribly wide meaning that if Krychowiak scored, he would put his side though into the Quarter-finals for the first-time, and the Sevilla midfielder did exactly that, stepping up to drill the ball home past Sommer.
The result meant that Poland will progress into the Quarter-finals of the competition whilst Switzerland bow out.