The Round of 16 got off to a furious start on Saturday, as Poland and Switzerland needed their clash to be decided on penalty kicks.
Grzegorz Krychowiak helped guide Poland to a 1-1 (5-4 on penalties) win against Switzerland to advance to the last eight at Euro 2016. Granit Xhaka was the only player to miss for Switzerland, confirming the team’s exit from the tournament.
After failing to make a significant impact for much of the tournament, Xherdan Shaqiri silenced his critics with a fantastic overhead effort to level the match in the second half. A failed clearance from the Poland backline led to the Stoke City midfielder conversion on his bicycle kick attempt with eight minutes remaining in regulation.
Jakub Blaszczykowski capitalized on a well-executed counterattack in the 39th minute, giving Poland the lead after receiving a cross from Kamil Grosicki. Błaszczykowski gathered the ball from close range and slotted his effort past goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
Despite Switzerland’s dominant possession throughout the opening 45 minutes, Poland was on the aggressor in creating chances, and nearly found a lead in the first minute of play.
Needing a goal to force extra time, the Swiss pushed hard for an equalizer in the second half, however, that finish never came despite their best efforts.
Lukasz Fabianski was forced into several tough saves on the day for Poland, but his stop in the 72nd minute proved to be the biggest of them all. Swiss left back Ricardo Rodríguez stepped up and curled a fantastic free-kick towards the top corner, but Fabianski made his way across goal and prevented the equalizer.
Chances were far and few in extra time during the first half, but Fabianski was tested in the 113th minute when Eren Derdiyok managed a free header off of Shaqiri’s cross. From there, both teams had several quality chances as the defenses were forced into last-minute clearances to send the match to penalty kicks.
Poland will face either Croatia or Portugal in the quarterfinals on June 30.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Seven saves were enough for Lukasz Fabianski to keep Poland in the match, even when that possibility seemed in doubt. It took Shaqiri’s fantastic overhead effort just to beat the Swansea City keeper.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The winner was the decisive play in the game but Xherdan Shaqiri’s finish to keep Switzerland alive was nothing short of spectacular.
MATCH TO FORGET
Robert Lewandowski‘s struggles at Euro 2016 continued on Saturday, managing just two shots on target and again failing to make an impact in the attacking third. To the striker’s dismay, he was substituted off