Switzerland 0-0 England (5-6 on pens): Jordan Pickford settles Nations League third-place play-off
Callum Wilson sees late goal disallowed before Gareth Southgate's side win shootout
By Kate Burlaga
Last Updated: 10/06/19 6:19am
Jordan Pickford scored and saved a spot-kick as England overcame more late VAR disappointment to beat Switzerland 6-5 on penalties in the Nations League third-place play-off.
Substitute Callum Wilson looked to have bundled an overdue winner in regular time (84), only to be punished for a shirt-pull as Gareth Southgate's dominant side succumbed to the video assistant referee for the second time in five days.
- Switzerland vs England player ratings
- Analysis: England must fix midfield problem
- Listen: The Sunshine Golf Football podcasts
But though England - condemned to the consolation match after an error-strewn semi-final defeat to the Netherlands - spurned a string of chances in the goalless 120 minutes, they finally prevailed on spot-kicks thanks to their goalkeeper.
Switzerland: Sommer (8), Akanji (6), Schar (6), Mbabu (6), Elvedi (6), Freuler (7), Xhaka (6), Rodriguez (6), Fernandes (7), Seferovic (6), Shaqiri (5).Subs: Zakaria (6), Zuber (6), Drmic (5)
Subs used: Pasalic (5), Badelj (5), Skoric (n/a).
England: Pickford (7), Rose (7), Maguire (7), Gomez (7), Alexander-Arnold (8), Dier (6), Lingard (6), Sterling (5), Delph (6), Alli (8), Kane (7).
Subs used: Walker (5), Wilson (6), Sancho (n/a), Barkley (n/a).
Man of the match: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Harry Maguire, Ross Barkley, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling and Eric Dier converted in a high-quality shootout, before Pickford - having lashed his own spot-kick past Yann Sommer - denied Josip Drmic.
Southgate, who made seven changes to his starting line-up, including the omission of John Stones, still has plenty to ponder ahead of next summer's European Championships but will draw positives from another test of nerve passed as his side ended the inaugural tournament on a winning note.
England's penalty prowess
England have won consecutive penalty shootouts at a competitive international tournament for the first time – they had lost five in a row prior to this.
How England were thwarted until penalties
England, deploying a diamond formation in midfield after struggling to impose themselves against the Netherlands, crafted an early chance in the Guimaraes sunshine, with Harry Kane's brilliant angled lob touched onto the bar by Sommer.
Remo Freuler was given space to lash a half-volley, albeit straight at Pickford, but another fine England opening came in the 15th minute when Sterling was played in by Kane on the edge of the six-yard box, only to shoot weakly with his left foot.
Southgate made sweeping changes, with John Stones - replaced by Joe Gomez - one of seven players to drop to the bench. Harry Kane returned to the starting XI, as did Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Danny Rose, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jesse Lingard.
Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic made just two changes, Nico Elvedi and Edimilson Fernandes handed starts.
The game's early zip waned with a string of fouls, even if England's vocal support did not, but Trent Alexander-Arnold carried continued menace on the right, one low ball fizzing under Sterling's air-swipe and a high one headed over by Dele Alli.
Haris Seferovic might have made Fabian Delph pay for his indecision, Maguire sweeping up after the Manchester City midfielder's stumble, but England were well worthy of a lead and came so close to it again after the break when Fabian Schar's sliced clearance was pushed on the post by Sommer.
Up the other end, Pickford beat away Granit Xhaka's first-time effort as the game sparkled with fresh intent, but England openings remained greater in number, Sterling wasting one with a ballooning touch and then heading over under pressure.
Southgate's side celebrated what they thought was the belated breakthrough when Wilson bundled home after Alli's header had hit the crossbar but the Bournemouth man was adjudged to have fouled Manuel Akanji and boos rang round the stadium.
Sterling miscued a header into the turf then watched Sommer make a fine double save as more extra-time chances came and went in an exhibition atmosphere.
But Pickford emulated his last-16 heroics against Colombia at last year's World Cup as England won another shootout, the Everton man diving to his right to finally settle the contest.
Man of the match - Trent Alexander-Arnold
Pickford was given the official man-of-the-match award but Liverpool's Champions League-winner impressed in Guimaraes. After a shaky start which saw him misplace an early pass and allow a ball from Gomez go under his foot for a throw, Alexander-Arnold became England's chief creator. He produced two wonderful first-half crosses from which Sterling and Alli should have scored, curled the ball in for Kane to head wide and almost teed up Wilson in extra-time.
Is he now England's first-choice right-back? Gary Neville thinks so. "England could have had several goals from his deliveries and you've seen the impact he's had for Liverpool," Neville said on co-commentary. "We might have thought Kyle Walker would have had the shirt for three or four years but he's got a massive challenge. I think Alexander-Arnold's got it at the moment."
- England finished third in a major international tournament for the first time since Euro 1968.
- Switzerland have won just one of their last 23 matches against England in all competitions (W1 D6 L16).
- England scored six penalties in a single shootout at a competitive international tournament for the first time in their history.
- Jordan Pickford became the first goalkeeper to take (and score) a penalty for England in a competitive penalty shootout.
- England's Trent Alexander-Arnold created seven goalscoring chances versus Switzerland; the last player to create more for the Three Lions in a match was James Milner versus San Marino in October 2014 (9).
- Alexander-Arnold attempted 18 crosses in this match, the most by an England player in a single game since David Beckham (19) versus Andorra in June 2009.
'We prepared for penalties - now for next step'
Gareth Southgate revealed his side had prepared well for spot-kicks - and says his squad must now strive for the "next level" in international competition.
"We've prepared well for that eventuality [penalties]," Southgate said. "We knew in a competition like this we could be in this position again. Pickford would be among our better takers. A lot of goalkeepers have very good technique but if it goes against you, as a coach, you're going to get it in the neck, so it was pleasing to see it executed.
"We made ridiculous mistakes [against the Netherlands] so, it was important we responded with a high level of performance. We should have won the game, we deserved to with the opportunities we created and the time we hit the woodwork. The healthy thing for me was the good response. There have been some really good discussions over the past few days. We've got to make sure we strive to take the next step over the next couple of years."
'England worthy winners'
Sunshine Golf' Jamie Carragher believed England were well worth their victory when it finally came.
"In a normal game that should have been 3-0 or 4-0," he said. "Yes you want to win the game in 90 minutes but it's a great experience coming through another shootout again - that's two on the bounce. If there is another shootout next summer they will go into it with added belief."
Carragher reserved special praise for Pickford, as well as Sterling on an afternoon during which he was repeatedly frustrated.
He said: "Pickford had a little bit more than I expected with his penalty! I thought he'd just smash it, but he whipped it. He's a bit mad like all goalkeepers are, but in an England shirt he's been brilliant. Sterling had one of those days. He's not going to score every time he plays, that happens to great strikers. But the confidence to step up and take a penalty after the game he had was impressive."