Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 26th 2016 Contents A43
June 26, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
SAINT-ETIENNE, France---As spec-
tacular as it was, Xherdan
Shaqiri s beautiful bicycle kick
goal just wasn t enough.
The Switzerland forward scored
the goal of the tournament against
Poland yesterday, jumping with his
back to the net before sending a
left-footed volley inside the post
from near the edge of the area.
The goal made it 1-1 in the 82nd
minute, but Poland managed to
win a 5-4 in a penalty shootout
and advance to the European
"It was (a) beautiful (goal), but
at the end we are out," said Shaqiri,
a 24-year-old Stoke midfielder who
was named man of the match in
a losing effort. "It s a great disap-
pointment. We could have achieved
something very big. We had the
Things could have been different
for Shaqiri and Switzerland, which
has not won a knockout match at
a major competition since the 1938
The Swiss had several chances
in the match at Stade Geoffroy-
Guichard, but poor finishing again
let them down.
Down 1-0 at halftime, Shaqiri
set the tone by creating opportu-
nities immediately after the restart.
He made Poland s defenders look
slow as they scrambled to disrupt
his repeated incursions into the
area with his lightening quick feet.
His team rallied behind him and
pinned Poland down. After Ricardo
Rodriguez s free kick tested goal-
keeper Lukasz Fabianski, Switzer-
land coach Vladimir Petkovic sent
on Breel Embolo to join Haris
Seferovic up front. But Embolo
shot weakly when the ball fell to
him in the area, and seconds later
Seferovic curled the rebound off
Shaqiri, however, came through
with his remarkable equalizer, lev-
eling the score and giving the Swiss
a chance as they pressed to com-
plete the turnaround.
"(Shaqiri s goal) was instinct and
belief, because you have to be con-
vinced when you throw yourself
at a ball like that," Petkovic said.
"And you also need a bit of luck,
which, unfortunately, we lacked
Switzerland did have another
good chance to score late in extra
time, but substitute Eren
Derdiyok s point-blank header was
saved by Fabianski.
The missed summed up Switzer-
land s Euro 2016. None of the
team s three goals in four matches
came from forwards.
"My players gave everything and
showed what they can do on the
pitch, but, unfortunately, we made
mistakes," Petkovic said. "We
weren t clinical enough and we
paid for it." (AP)
spent time preparing for a penalty
shootout---and it showed.
Pinned back in its own half for long
spells by Switzerland as fatigue
appeared to take its toll in extra time,
Poland focused on the defensive virtues
that have served it so well at the Euro-
The strategy paid off, and Poland
reached the quarterfinals of the Euro-
pean Championship for the first time,
after it converted all its kicks from the
penalty spot to beat Switzerland 5-4
in the shootout.
Following a 1-1 draw yesterday that
Switzerland had dominated for long
periods, Grzegorz Krychowiak stepped
up to slot home the winning penalty
into the top left corner of the Swiss
Krychowiak s winning penalty at
the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in the
southern French city of Saint-Etienne
capped an impressive display by
Poland s players during the shootout.
The only player to miss was Switzer-
land midfielder Granit Xhaka---Arsenal s
new signing---who misfired his shot
past the left post.
"Preparing for this match, we tried
to improve our penalties, and we knew
they d be taken in the best possible
way," Poland coach Adam Nawalka
said through a translator.
"We knew the five players to take
them. Emotions were running high so
we had to check at the end of extra
time if the players still wanted to take
them. Everyone had to confirm, and
all five of them did."
Poland will play either Croatia or
Portugal in the quarterfinals on Thurs-
day in Marseille, already its best per-
formance in a major competition since
the 1982 World Cup in Spain when it
made the semifinals.
Switzerland will be ruing a series of
misses in a match that would have
secured its first victory in a knockout
match at a major tournament since
the 1938 World Cup. The team certainly
looked like it had more energy --- after
all it had two extra rest days to recover
from the group stage than Poles.
Poland started the brighter though
and should have taken the lead in the
first minute when Arkadiusz Milik
missed what is in effect an open goal
from 20 meters following a mix-up in
the Swiss defense.
Poland eventually took the lead in
the 39th minute when Jakub
Blaszczykowski scored his second goal
of the tournament with a low shot
that went between the legs of Switzer-
land goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
As the second half progressed,
Switzerland was certainly the more
attack-minded side and Haris Seferovic
struck the bar.
Its pressure paid off in the 82nd
minute when Xherdan Shaqiri scored
perhaps the best goal of the tourna-
ment so far. Allowed far too much
space on the edge of the area, he
jumped with his back to the net before
firing a left-footed volley inside the
"We would have deserved to
advance," Shaqiri said. "It was a very
important goal, because it pushed the
team more. It was beautiful, but in the
end, we are out and I m disappoint-
ed,"Shaqiri was a constant threat to
Poland with his speed of touch and
play in extra time. Switzerland sub-
stitute Eren Derdiyok had two good
chances to win the match but Lukasz
Fabianski kept his team in the game.
Those saves were crucial as they set
up the shootout that Poland had clearly
prepared for. "In general we are very
happy as we did something we had
not done before," Blaszczykowski said.
"This is a marvelous feeling. Did I
know that whenever I ve scored Poland
have never lost? It is nice. Let s hope
it will stay like this all the way through
to the final."
One potential concern for Poland
heading into its next match is the goal
drought that s afflicting its star player
Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern
Munich striker, who was top scorer in
qualifying, has yet to score in the four
games he s played at the tournament,
aside from his cool finish in the penalty
Nawalka though was fulsome in his
praise of Lewandowski.
"He is doing phenomenal work for
this team," Nawalka said. "He s an
incredibly important player for this
side. He helps the team to be better,
stronger. He helps them to be better
players. I m confident the break will
happen in the next match, and let our
opponents be afraid from there." (AP)
Shaqiri's spectacular goal
not enough for Switzerland
Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri scores his side's first goal during the Euro 2016 round of 16 soccer match between
Switzerland and Poland, at the Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint-Etienne, France, yesterday. AP PHOTO
Poland's penalty preparations evident in Switzerland win
Poland's Jakub Blaszczykowski, left, celebrates after scoring the
opening goal during the Euro 2016 round of 16 soccer match between
Switzerland and Poland, at the Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint-
Etienne, France, yesterday. AP PHOTO
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