ENGLAND were celebrating spot-kick success as a perfect penalty shootout sent them into the semi-finals of Euro 2024.

Having drawn 1-1 with Switzerland in Dusseldorf, all five of England’s penalty takers were successful as they claimed a 5-3 victory on spot-kicks.

Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney and Trent Alexander-Arnold were all successful from the spot, with Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer not really getting close to any of England’s efforts.

Jordan Pickford, on the other hand, saved Switzerland’s first penalty from Manuel Akanji to send England through to the last four of the Euros for the second tournament in a row. Having helped England win a World Cup penalty shootout in Russia, the Wearsider is becoming something of a spot-kick specialist.

England were heading out when Breel Embolo turned home Dan Ndoye’s deflected cross with 15 minutes of normal time remaining, but Saka equalised five minutes later, firing home via the inside of the post after cutting infield from the right touchline.

Pickford was almost embarrassed when Xherdan Shaqiri’s corner hit the crossbar, but the England goalkeeper was to have the last laugh in the shootout. As a result, England march on to a semi-final in Dortmund on Wednesday evening.

Gareth Southgate’s switch to a five-man defence had been extensively trailed prior to kick-off, but the England boss sprung something of a surprise by opting to keep Kieran Trippier on the left-hand side rather than switching Saka, who lined up in the right wing-back slot.

As a right-footed defender playing on the left, Trippier’s tendency to cut inside whenever in possession has slowed England’s attacking down all tournament, yet rather than using the change of formation as an opportunity to put some round pegs in round holes, Southgate stuck obdurately to his guns.

Perhaps it should have been no surprise, then, that much of England’s attacking was as laboured and unthreatening as it had been in their previous four matches.

The only time Southgate’s side really looked like threatening the Swiss goal was when they were able to switch the ball quickly to Saka, who clearly had the beating of his opposition wing-back, Michel Aebischer.

On two or three occasions during the first half, Saka burst on Aebischer’s outside, only to fail to deliver a telling ball into the 18-yard box. At least the Arsenal man was attempting to be direct though, something that seemed anathema to most of his team-mates.

Half-time arrived without England recording a single effort on target. Declan Rice and Kobbie Mainoo both had long-range shots blocked, while Harry Kane failed to find the target after rising to meet a corner from Trippier with a header.

Corners were a bone of contention, though, with England’s fans booing when another corner routine ended with the ball going all the way back to Pickford rather than being delivered into the 18-yard box.

At least England were defensively sound before the break, as they have been for the vast majority of the tournament. Ezri Konsa, the replacement for the suspended Marc Guehi, made a couple of important blocks, while Mainoo did well to mop up when Ndoye burst past Trippier and delivered the ball from the right. When it came to threatening in the final third, though, Switzerland were equally as ineffective as their opponents.

Pickford was called into action for the first time six minutes into the second half, saving from Embolo after the striker turned past Konsa in the box, and with Switzerland gradually starting to dominate possession after the break, Aebischer fired over from just outside the area.

Southgate’s refusal to make any changes was baffling, and England were made to pay for their passivity when they fell behind in the 75th minute.

Ndoye created some space on the right of the box, and after his cross deflected off Rice, Embolo stole ahead of Kyle Walker to turn home at the back post.

Finally, the goal prompted Southgate to make some alterations, with Luke Shaw, Eberechi Eze and Palmer all coming off the bench. Within two minutes of the changes, England were level.

The goal was a superb individual effort from Saka, with the Arsenal winger cutting infield from the right before drilling an excellent finish into the far corner via the inside of the post. It was England’s first effort on goal all game, and proof of just what can happen if you actually have a shot.

Suddenly, England were transformed, and Eze dragged a shot wide from the corner of the 18-yard box as Southgate’s side pushed for a winner.

With the scores level at 1-1, England went into extra-time for the second game in a row, and they almost claimed the lead within five minutes of the restart. Eze’s cross was only cleared to Rice, and Sommer did superbly to tip the Arsenal midfielder’s long-range strike around the post.

Sommer saved again from Bellingham as the midway point of extra-time approached, and with penalties looming, Swiss substitute Shaqiri almost claimed what would have been a remarkable winner when he curled in an inswinging corner against the crossbar.