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England Beat Switzerland to UEFA Nations League 3rd Place in Penalty Shootout

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2019

GUIMARAES, PORTUGAL - JUNE 09: Raheem Sterling of England battles for possession with Edimilson Fernandes of Switzerland during the UEFA Nations League Third Place Playoff match between Switzerland and England at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques on June 09, 2019 in Guimaraes, Portugal. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

England beat Switzerland on penalties to finish the inaugural UEFA Nations League tournament in third place on Sunday after the match ended in a goalless draw. Jordan Pickford saved Josip Drmic's spot-kick in a 6-5 shootout.

The match was largely devoid of chances early, with neither team seemingly motivated to push for a win. England improved as time wore on and hit the woodwork twice in regulation and once more in extra time, while Switzerland barely threatened.

In the shootout, the first 11 players all converted before Pickford saved Drmic's effort.

The Netherlands and hosts Portugal will battle it out for the trophy later on Sunday.

Manager Gareth Southgate unsurprisingly opted to rotate his squad, with only Pickford, Harry Maguire, Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling keeping their spots in the starting XI from Thursday's semi-final with the Netherlands.

Harry Kane was a surprise starter, and he nearly opened the scoring after three minutes, clipping the crossbar with a chipped effort.

Per sports writer James Olley, the Tottenham Hotspur man made a far better impression against the Swiss than he did in the semi-finals:

James Olley @JamesOlley

Kane has already looked much sharper in the opening 15 minutes here than on Thursday or the CL final. He's hit the bar and just played a superb through ball for Sterling. Encouraging signs.

Sterling perhaps should have scored after a clever piece of play from the Three Lions, firing his effort right at Yann Sommer, and the City man almost got to a sharp cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The Liverpool full-back had a fine first half, and he found Dele Alli with another great cross, only to watch as the Spurs man missed the target.

Alli seemed to realise he should have done better:

UEFA Nations League @UEFAEURO

😼 Alli connects with a brilliant Alexander-Arnold cross but heads it over the top... #NationsLeague https://t.co/yyUf309m3F

Switzerland didn't offer much in response, as Pickford barely had to make a save in the first half. He also looked more comfortable with the ball at his feet than he did against the Netherlands.

The Swiss were a little more adventurous after the break but nearly gifted England the lead when Fabian Schar made a last-ditch tackle that diverted the ball on to Sommer's post.

On the other side of the pitch, Granit Xhaka put Pickford to work as the match started to heat up. The increased pace also led to some setbacks, however, and Xherdan Shaqiri left the pitch with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Match of the Day @BBCMOTD

Xherdan Shaqiri has pulled something and immediately signals that he'll have to come off. His limp is a scene to behold, shall we say awkward. #NationsLeague #SUIENG https://t.co/KIwuHMOChL

Sterling fired a shot high from a promising position with 15 minutes left to play, and with neither team pushing for a winner, extra time seemed inevitable. Callum Wilson had other plans and had the ball in the net after 84 minutes, only for VAR to intervene.

Fans were not happy:

Simon Peach @SimonPeach

"VAR is f***** s***" is the next chant. If this goes to extra time, I completely agree

Replays confirmed there was a foul on Manuel Akanji in the buildup, so the decision was correct. 

In the first period of extra time, the better chances again fell to England. Sterling's header somehow didn't cross the line, and Sommer made a wonderful save to deny Alli.

Southgate introduced Jadon Sancho and Ross Barkley at the start of the second period, but at this point, both teams seemed to have their minds on the shootout. Sterling had one final chance, but his free-kick hit the woodwork.

The first 11 takers all converted their penalties, with Barkley opting for a risky but well-executed dinked shot. Drmic put an end to the perfect streak, however, handing England the win.

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