Grzegorz Krychowiak smashes home the winning penalty for Poland in a scrappy encounter between Poland and Switzerland.
This was the first ever knockout game that Poland had ever played at the finals of a European Championships, and they were able to deliver via the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
The game first came to life in the 35th minute when a Ricardo Rodríguez corner was well met by the head of Fabian Schär, whose downward header was into the arms of Łukasz Fabiański. Switzerland continued to press and a couple of minutes after Schär’s chance, Blerim Džemali went past his man but his deflected 25-yard strike was tipped over by Fabiański.
Poland then took the lead six minutes from half-time through a classic counter. Fabiański threw the ball out wide to Kamil Grosicki, who charged upfield and his dinked cross was wonderfully dummied by Arkadiusz Milik before the cross was controlled by Jakub Błasczczykowski, who slotted home to give Poland the vital lead.
The second half didn’t come alive until the last 20 minutes when Rodríguez’s curling free-kick was superbly tipped over by a fully-outstretched Fabiański. Switzerland then had a superb chance to equalise when Johan Djourou’s shot was cleared off the line, but Haris Seferović’s follow-up cannoned off the crossbar and was cleared to safety.
Switzerland continued to press and got a well-deserved equaliser when a Rodríguez cross caused panic amongst the Polish defence. His teasing cross not cleared well enough, and Xherdan Shaqiri scored one of the goals of the tournament as he backpedalled well to meet the half-clearance, before scoring an incredible overhead kick from the edge of the box to spark jubilant scenes from the Switzerland bench and amongst the Swiss fans.
Shaqiri’s goal led the game into extra time and the only real chance to materialise in this period came in the second half, when Granit Xhaka’s dink over the backline was met by Eren Derdiyok’s head but, with the ball destined for the net, Fabiański got down well to tip the ball aside for a corner.
The game then petered out and drifted to penalties, where Lichtsteiner and Lewandowski slotted home their spot kicks. Xhaka skewed his penalty horribly wide before Milik managed to squeeze his shot home. Shaqiri and Glik were then able to score their penalties.
Schär and Błaszczykowski then stepped up to score their penalties before Rodríguez smashed home his penalty to give Switzerland a faint hope. It was then all down to Poland’s engine man, Kryochowiak, to send Poland through to the quarter-finals and he delivered by firing his penalty into the roof of the net to send Poland into jubilant scenes.
Lukasz Fabiański deserves the man of the match aware for his outstanding performance in between the Poland sticks, making superb saves from Schär, Dzemali, Rodríguez and Derdiyok, and also launching the counter attack for Poland’s goal.
Poland’s win on penalties means that Poland will set up a thrilling quarter final clash with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal side, who scraped through against Croatia. This game will be played on Thursday night.
Poland Starting XI: Fabiański, Piszcek, Glik, Pazdan, Jedrzejcyk, Błaszczykowski, Krychowiak, Maczynski, Grosicki, Milik, Lewandowski.
Switzerland Starting XI: Sommer, Rodríguez, Djourou, Schär, Lichtsteiner, Xhaka, Dzemali, Behrami, Mehmedi, Seferović, Shaqiri.