Poland reached their first European Championship quarter-final with a penalty shoot-out win over Switzerland yesterday afternoon.
A Jakub Blaszczykowski strike had looked to be enough in normal time for Poland only for Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri to make it 1-1 with a tremendous athletic volley to send the game into extra-time.
With no winning goal found, the tie was decided on penalties with new Arsenal signing Granit Xhaka missing and Sevilla’s Grzegorz Krychowiak hammering home the winning penalty as Poland scored all five.
Poland should have been ahead inside 30 seconds when Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer bowled the ball out to Johan Djourou who passed it back across his box, only for Robert Lewandowski to pounce.
Sommer did enough to nick the ball off the toe of the Bayern Munich forward but it fell to Arkadiusz Milik, who could only fire over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
The game lacked any real quality and Poland missed another good chance when Krychowiak headed over a corner just before the half-hour mark when completely free inside the box.
Moments later Kamil Grosicki and Milik wasted further good chances for Poland, with Switzerland getting a rare effort on goal but Fabian Schar’s header was easily saved by Lukasz Fabianski.
The Swansea stopper was then forced to tip a deflected Blerim Dzemaili strike behind for a corner from which Poland broke forward to open the scoring.
With six minutes to go before the break, Grosicki led a counter-attack which was swept home by Blaszczykowski to give Adam Nawalka’s side a deserved half-time lead.
Switzerland began to push forward after the break and Fabianski made a great save from Ricardo Rodriguez’s free-kick as Poland continued to defend their clean sheet.
Haris Seferovic had been very quiet in attack for the Swiss but he came close to levelling as his effort from 12 yards crashed against the crossbar.
Their change of emphasis finally paid off as Shaqiri’s acrobatic scissor-kick from the edge of the box beat Fabianski to equalise with eight minutes remaining.
Neither side could find a winner in the closing stages with some players tiring as referee Mark Clattenburg blew the full-time whistle to signal a period of extra-time.
The first 15 minutes of extra-time followed suit as there were no clear-cut chances for either side and Fabianski again made a good save in the second period, pushing out Eren Derdiyok’s effort after he had been found by the impressive Shaqiri.
No winning goal was forthcoming and the first round of 16 tie was decided on penalties, with captain Stephan Lichtsteiner tucking away the opener for Switzerland.
Poland skipper Lewandowski was next and converted with aplomb before Xhaka blazed wide.
Milik put Poland in charge despite Sommer getting a hand to his kick, with Shaqiri scoring next for the Swiss.
Kamil Glik, Schar and Blaszczykowski all scored to put the pressure on Rodriguez, with the full-back tucking his spot-kick away only for Krychowiak to bury the decider and take Poland through.
SWITZERLAND: Sommer, Lichtsteiner, Schar, Djourou, Rodriguez, Behrami (Fernandes 77), Xhaka, Shaqiri, Dzemaili (Embolo 58), Mehmedi (Derdiyok 70),Seferovic.
Subs Not Used: Hitz, Moubandje, Elvedi, Von Bergen, Lang, Frei, Zakaria, Tarashaj, Burki.
POLAND: Fabianski, Piszczek, Glik, Pazdan,Jedrzejczyk, Blaszczykowski, Krychowiak, Maczynski (Jodlowiec 101), Grosicki (Peszko 104), Milik, Lewandowski.
Subs Not Used: Szczesny, Cionek, Linetty, Stepinski, Wawrzyniak, Salamon, Zielinski, Starzynski, Boruc.
referee: M Clattenburg (England). ATTENDANCE: 38,842