Euro 2024: Gareth Southgate hails England's 'best performance' of tournament after beating Switzerland to reach semi-finals

Published on Jul, 07 2024

Gareth Southgate hailed England's character after what he described as their best performance of Euro 2024 in the quarter-final penalty shootout win against Switzerland.


Bukayo Saka cancelled out Breel Embolo's opener to take the game to extra-time and onto penalties where Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Saka, Ivan Toney and Trent Alexander-Arnold all scored and Jordan Pickford saved Manuel Akanji's opening effort for the Swiss as England reached the semi-finals.



It was a dramatic end to an edgy encounter and England's first shoot-out win since beating the Swiss in the Nations League third-placed play-off five years ago in Portugal.


"I just thought the players were brilliant. It's the best we have played," Southgate told the BBC after the win.

Jordan Pickford saves Manuel Akanji's penalty

"I thought we caused them a lot of problems. They are a really good side. They are hard to press, they are hard to defend against, their movement is good.


"To come from behind again and show the character and resilience we did, talking to the players about that, winning tournaments isn't just about playing well. It's not just about that. You've got to show other attributes to win and we showed them all tonight.

 England players celebrate after defeating Switzerland on penalties to advance to the semi-finals of Euro 2024

"We played well today and we had to be tactically spot on. I don't know what people think of us but we are in a third semi-final, so that says a lot about the group.

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"We knew we needed to get pressure on their back three and that's not easy without changing the shape. I thought the players were disciplined with it.

"I thought Phil was a real problem for them to pick up, Kobbie and Jude were finding those gaps on the side of their block. I thought we had good control. For some of the balls into the box, we probably needed more men in the box, but l thought it was the best that we have played."

Southgate: No doubting Saka would take a pen

Saka missed the decisive penalty in the final of the last Euros against Italy at Wembley Stadium in 2021 as England fell just short in this competition last time around.


On Saka stepping up to take a penalty in the shootout and scoring this time, Southgate said: "So brave. He is one of our best, so we were never in any question that he was going to take one. But we all know what he went through.

 Bukayo Saka after scoring England's equaliser against Switzerland

"To deliver as he did…. But not just him, Trent and Ivan, to come on and take them as they did; Cole, he's like an old man in the way he is fearless. So a huge result for us, a huge performance, and we're still in it.

"We played well today and we had to be tactically spot on. I don't know what people think of us but we are in a third semi-final, so that says a lot about the group."

Analysis: Saka shows his mettle and quality


 Bukayo Saka scores England's equaliser against Switzerland

England would not be celebrating a place in the last four without Bukayo Saka. The Arsenal forward, England's most dangerous player throughout the contest, scored a stunning equaliser during a player-of-the-match performance in Dusseldorf.


Even more impressive, though, was his willingness to then step up and take one of England's penalties in the shootout, only three years after the miss that proved so costly in the final of Euro 2020. Not only that, he converted it too, demonstrating his quality and mettle to help England get over the line.

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