Unai Simon the hero as Spain need penalties to beat Switzerland

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 02: Sergio Busquets of Spain celebrates their side's victory in the penalty shoot out with team mate Unai Simon after the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Switzerland and Spain at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 02, 2021 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Kirill Kudryavstev - Pool/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 02: Sergio Busquets of Spain celebrates their side's victory in the penalty shoot out with team mate Unai Simon after the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Switzerland and Spain at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 02, 2021 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Kirill Kudryavstev - Pool/Getty Images) /
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Spain’s players celebrates winning the UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-final football match between Switzerland and Spain at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on July 2, 2021. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / POOL / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Spain’s players celebrates winning the UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-final football match between Switzerland and Spain at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on July 2, 2021. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / POOL / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Spain are through to the semifinals where they will play either Belgium or Italy

Switzerland proved their win against France was no fluke as the Swiss almost pulled off another giant slaying as they took Spain all the way to penalties in their quarterfinal match.

However, Spain goalkeeper Unai Simón stepped up and played the hero for manager Luis Enrique’s side.

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Spain took the early lead in the match following a shot from left-back Jordi Alba from outside the penalty area. He was fortunate as the ball took a deflection on its way to goal.

The Spanish continued to threaten in the first half but their attempts at a second goal was denied by Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer.

Switzerland managed to get in the game and were the more dangerous side after the Alba goal. Their efforts were finally rewarded early in the second half as an error by the Spain defense allowed Switzerland to equalize.

In a mix up between Pau Torres and Aymeric Laporte, the ball bounced off the Torres and landed to Xherdan Shaqiri who calmly finished past Simon.

Just when it looked like the game was in Switzerland’s hands, Remo Freuler was shown a red card for a tackle on Gerard Moreno.

But Spain were unable to take advantage of their extra player — it wasn’t for a lack of trying either. They created a decent amount of chances in regulation but time and time again came up against the solid hands of Sommer.

The 30 minutes of extra time was more of the same with Spain having the possession but the Swiss defense blocking shots and heading crosses away from goal. Spain were unable to score in extra time and the game went to penalties.

Sergio Busquets took Spain’s first penalty and missed. Mario Gavranoviç scored his to give Switzerland the advantage. But after that, Switzerland missed three straight penalties with Simon stopping two and Ruben Vargas skying the third. Mikel Oyarzabal scored the fifth and deciding penalty that took Spain through.

After struggling with converting penalties, Spain were able to score them when it mattered even with the Busquets’ miss. It was something they were also working on all tournament.

"“We practice penalties for these situations,” said Moreno. “When I took mine, I had various spot kicks I’ve taken in my head, but I just decided to put my heart and soul into it.”Source: UEFA"

Simón was Spain’s savior and seems to have put that gaffe against Croatia behind. He was pivotal throughout the game and even more so in the penalty shootout. He was given the Man of the Match for his efforts.

"“Honestly? I’d have given Star of the Match to Yann Sommer,” Simón said.“Just like we had to erase the memory of that mistake in the last match, it’s time to quickly forget this triumph because we face a tough rival in the next match.”Source: UEFA"

Spain certainly need to improve certain aspects as they once again looked frail when it came down to defending as well as up top when it came to finishing their chances.

Nevertheless, they remain confident that ahead of their next match despite who they may face. They believe they’re playing well and it’s only a matter of fine tuning certain aspects.

Next. Euro 2020 Quarterfinal Preview: Ukraine vs England. dark

“If we produce a match like this in the semi-final, we’ve got every chance of winning,” Oyarzabal said.