The EURO 2020 quarter-finals threw up less surprises than the rounds that came before but we were still treated to a phenomenal display of footballing entertainment including red cards, thrashings, unstoppable goals and the tension of extra-time and penalties. Here we review the quarter-finals.
Switzerland 1-1 SPain (spain win on pens)
Switzerland nearly pulled off the impossible once again, a hard working display full of energy and desire they took possession powerhouses Spain through extra-time and into a penalty shoot-out despite suffering a red card for Freuler. However, unlike in their heroics against France they were unable to keep their cool during the infamous walk from the centre circle to the penalty spot, a calamitous series of penalties to allow Spain progression into the semi-final. The Spanish were typical of themselves, they had all the ball and looked to move the stubborn Swiss defence around, there’s no doubting their technical ability but once again we’re left questioning the organisation of their defensive shape. Luis Enrique will have to hope Aymeric Laporte can re-kindle the form he has for club Manchester City as his side now face the test of the relentless Azzuri.
(Spain celebrate during penalties: Getty Images)
Belgium 1-2 Italy
The number one ranked side in the world crashed out of another tournament at the quarter-final stage as Roberto Martinez is unable to steer the ‘golden generation’ into a major final. This game saw the team ethic of the Azzuri defeat the individuals of Belgium, from the very beginning Italy pressed the ageing Belgian defence into fear, a relentless opening 25 minutes. The pressure paid off when Barella used tidy footwork to metaphorically break the ankles of the red shirts in his way before smashing the ball past Courtois. The second came shortly after as Insigne whipped a powerful shot into the top corner. Belgium were left stunned but were handed a way back into the game when Doku was pushed in the box, Lukaku took the responsibility and made no mistake. The final 45 minutes saw Mancini’s men hold on with a professional display, defensive stalwarts Bonucci and Chiellini resilient as ever, one moment that marred the game was an injury to Italian left back Spinazzola , the defender one of the top performers at the competition.
(Barella celebrates scoring the opening goal against Belgium: Getty Images)
Czech Republic 1-2 DENMARK
Denmark are the neutral’s sweethearts of EURO 2020 following what they had to endure with teammate Christian Eriksen’s health scare and once again they showed togetherness to defeat the impressive Czech Republic. The Danish team’s spirit epitomised by their relentless attacking philosophy in the opening stages as they took the lead through Delaney just five minutes into the tie, they doubled the lead just before half-time with Dolberg adding his name to the scoresheet once again. This tournament has seen highly regarded players across Europe prove their worth but one surprise performer has been Czech striker Patrik Schick scoring his fifth of the competition to get his country back in the game. It wouldn’t be enough as Denmark held on to spur emotional scenes at the full-time whistle, they’re one game away from a European Championships final, something that would have felt a world away when they lost 1-0 to Finland in Copenhagen.
(Denmark’s opening goalscorer Thomas Delaney: Getty Images)
UKRAINE 0-4 ENGLAND
England swept aside Ukraine in emphatic fashion thanks to goals from Jordan Henderson (his first ever for his country), Harry Maguire and a brace from Harry Kane. The result meant that England became the first team in Euros history to begin their tournament with five consecutive clean sheets. Gareth Southgate must take an abundance of the credit, his influence clear to see with his side scoring just five minutes into the game as well as just 30 seconds into the second period, his team talks must have been inspiring. A win away from Wembley another factor that will give a boost of confidence to this team, although they will be returning to their home for the semi-final and final should they progress. Genuine belief is building that football could be coming home.
(England teammates embrace in Rome: Getty Images)