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Euro Quarters: Moments to Remember

By LAXMI NEGI
July 05, 2021 07:22 IST
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Euro 2020 began on June 11 with matches across Europe with some of the biggest soccer stars involved in a battle for continental glory.

At the end of the quarter-final stage on Saturday, July 3, the knockout drama continues with just four teams now left to dream of lifting the trophy on Sunday, July 11.

Euro 2020's first semi-final is a mouth-watering clash between two of Europe's biggest footballing nations: Italy and Spain.

England also stormed into the Euro 2020 semi-finals for the first time in 25 years after Harry Kane's brace helped Manager Gareth Southgate's side thrash Ukraine 4-0 to book a clash with Denmark.

Laxmi Negi/Rediff.com picks moments to remember from the quarter-finals...

Spain break Swiss hearts

Spain

IMAGE: Spain's Sergio Busquets celebrates victory in the penalty shootout against Switzerland. Photograph: Kirill Kudryavstev - Pool/Getty Images

Spain broke the deadlock early courtesy of Jordi Alba's deflected effort in the 8th minute and stuck to their trademark style of patient possession based play as Switzerland were forced to defend deep into their own half.

The Swiss were well organised, soaked in the pressure and looked play on the counter-attack using Xherdan Shaqiri's creative influence.

Onto the second half and Swiss Coach Vladimir Petkovic opted to press higher up the pitch in search of the elusive equaliser and was rewarded in the 68th minute.

Remo Freuler snatched the ball off Aymeric Laporte and set up Shaqiri, who placed the ball into the bottom corner to restore parity at 1-1.

Just when Switzerland seemed to be making inroads into the game, Freuler was given his marching orders by the referee in the 77th minute for a two-footed lunge.

Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer was the busiest player on the pitch as the Spaniards pushed forward in search of the winner.

Time and again, Sommer was at hand with his goal-line heroics to deny the Spanish as the Swiss fought hard to defend and force the game into extra-time and finally to penalties.

Unfortunately, unlike in the previous round against France where they scored from all five kicks, the Swiss limped out with a whimper in one of the lowest-scoring penalty shoot-outs in recent memory as Spain booked their place in the semi-finals.

Moment of the Match

Unai Simon delivered right when the team needed him the most -- in the penalty shootout.

Spain started off in the most horrific way possible with skipper Sergio Busquets crashing his effort into the post, but it was Simon who turned the tie around with his goal-line antics and two crucial saves which handed Spain the win.

Belgium fall to in-form Italy

Italy

IMAGE: Lorenzo Insigne, Italy's No 10, celebrates after scoring a brilliant goal. Photograph: Andreas Geber/Getty Images

Belgium took on Italy in a classic encounter which pegged two of the most in-form sides in Euro 2020 against each other in Munich.

Italy stuck to their attacking traits and took the game to the Belgians early on, pushing forward and dominating the opening exchanges.

At the half hour mark, Italy were finally rewarded when Nicolo Barella opened the scoring after skipping past two Belgian defenders and smashing the ball into the back of the net.

The lead was doubled courtesy of a spectacular strike from Lorenzo Insigne to make it 2-0. The Belgians were handed a lifeline at the stroke of half-time when Jeremy Doku was brought down inside the penalty area and Romelu Lukaku converted off the spot to make it 2-1.

Belgium went on the offensive in the second half, but the experienced Italian defence stood firm and blocked chance after chance and held on for a famous victory.

Moment of the Match

In the end, it was fitting that Lorenzo Insigne's goal was the difference between the two sides.

A goal of outstanding technical quality, it showed why Insigne is such a big part of Manager Roberto Mancini's plans. His effort curled from outside the box across the face of goal and into the far corner, past the outstretched 'keeper.

Denmark's fairytale run continues

Thomas Delaney

IMAGE: Denmark's Thomas Delaney celebrates after scoring his side's first goal against the Czech Republic in Baku. Photograph: Valetin Ogirenko - Pool/Getty Images

Thomas Delaney and Kasper Dolberg delivered the goals as Denmark edged past the Czech Republic to reach their first Euro semi-final since 1992 when they went on to hoist the trophy.

Denmark went off to a fine start, opening the scoring in the fifth minute off a Delaney header. The Danes looked the better of the two sides as the half wore on and the lead was doubled just before the break.

In a sweeping counter-attacking move, Joakim Mæhle’s cross from the left wing fell into the path of an onrushing Dolberg who finished from close range.

The Czechs clawed their way back minutes into the second half when Patrick Schick found the net for the fifth time in the tournament to make it 2-1.

Tomas Soucek went close to finding the equaliser late in the game, but the Danes held on to secure their spot in the semi-finals.

Moment of the Match

Joakim Mæhle's assist for the second Danish goal was a sight to behold. Speeding down the left wing, his outside-of-the-boot cross was technically flawless as it dissected the Czech defence and curled away from the 'keeper and into the path of Kasper Dolberg who only needed to stick out a foot to find the net from close range.

England rout Ukraine

Harry Kane

IMAGE: Harry Kane scores past Ukraine goal-keeper Georgiy Bushchan to put England ahead in the match. Photograph: Lars Baron/Getty Images

Goals from Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson enabled England to overcome Ukraine and record their highest-ever margin of victory in Euros history as they booked their place in the semis of Euro 2020 with a commanding performance in Rome.

England got off to a dream start and scored in the 4th minute when Rahem Sterling dribbled inside from the left wing and played through to Kane, who held off his marker and beat the 'keeper from close range.

England dominated proceedings and went close on multiple occasions. The second goal finally arrived in the 46th minute when Maguire headed home off Luke Shaw's free-kick.

Ukraine barely had any time to regroup before they went 3-0 down as Shaw's cross from the left was emphatically headed home by Kane.

Jordan Hendersen made it four on the night when he found himself in the right place at the right time to finish from Mason Mount's corner as England capped off the rout in style and secured the final spot in the Euro 2020 semi-finals.

Moment of the Match

Harry Kane's opening goal set the scene for what was to come and the England captain kept his cool to fend off his marker like an old-fashioned English No 9 and pounce on the opportunity.

Though the goal was not particularly spectacular, it calmed English nerves and allowed them the freedom to play without pressure much to the delight of English fans and media outlets who have been dreaming of international success for the Three Lions for decades.

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