Thursday, July 25, 2024

Saka celebrates ´special´ response to Euro 2020 heartbreak after shoot-out success

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 6 Jul 2024

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Bukayo Saka revelled in banishing previous penalty demons as England edged past Switzerland with a shoot-out victory in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals.

Saka levelled just five minutes after Breel Embolo’s 75th-minute opener in Dusseldorf on Saturday, though the two sides could not be separated across 120 minutes.

England had lost more shoot-outs than any other nation across the World Cup and European Championships (seven), with Saka missing in the final of the latter competition just four years ago.

Yet the Arsenal winger converted from 12 yards after Jordan Pickford had denied Manuel Akanji, before Trent Alexander-Arnold sent England into the last four at Dusseldorf Arena.

Saka was understandably delighted to bounce back on penalties after his heartbreak against Italy at Wembley Stadium at Euro 2020.

“To comeback from something like that is really difficult, today I took the chance,” the England forward said on BBC One.

“I am going to put it up there, special. How we fought back and to go to penalties. Last time we took at penalty shoot-out at the Euros we know what happened. I believed.

“I felt like we dominated the whole game and the chance would come and I took it – I am proud of myself for that.”

England have won just four penalty shoot-outs in their history but two of them have come against Switzerland, in 2019 in the Nations League and in this game at Euro 2024.

A last-four meeting with either the Netherlands or Turkiye awaits on Wednesday, where Saka is still desperate for Gareth Southgate’s side to improve.

“I think it shows how much we want to win this tournament,” Saka added. “Hopefully, next game we can win in 90 minutes but if this is what it takes – we will do anything!”

For just the second time in their 10th shoot-out at a major tournament, England scored every single one of their penalties in the shoot-out (5/5), also doing so against Spain at Euro 1996 (4/4).

Alexander-Arnold proved the hero when curling into Yann Sommer’s top corner, and the Liverpool full-back says the execution was down to Southgate’s meticulous planning.

“It is what we have practised,” Alexander-Arnold said on the same English outlet. “When the gaffer said I was taking one, I enjoy it and I practice it – I knew I had to just execute it.

“All five penalties from us were great.

“We knew it was going to be tight. Whatever it takes and no matter what we win – that is all that matters to us.”

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