Poland first team to reach last eight
Poles perfect in shoot-out but not potent to go far
ROUND OF 16
(Xherdan Shaqiri 82)
(Jakub Blaszczykowski 39)
l 1-1 after extra-time, Poland win 5-4 on penalties
In the end, Poland scraped through to the quarter-finals in the same laborious fashion they made it to the Round of 16.
The strike partnership of Robert Lewandowski (above) and Arkadiusz Milik, one overflowing with potential, once more looked pathetic.
With the front duo firing blanks again, it took Polish winger Jakub Blaszczykowski to give them the breakthrough in the 39th minute at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Etienne yesterday.
But the game's moment of brilliance belonged to Switzerland star Xherdan Shaqiri when he whipped in a stupendous overhead-kick from the edge of the penalty box with eight minutes left to force the game into extra-time and, subsequently, a penalty shoot-out.
The Swiss fans then felt the full brunt of travesty when new Arsenal signing Granit Xhaka failed to find the target from the spot - the only miss in the shoot-out.
This was a game which the fitter Switzerland side looked the far superior team, especially after half-time.
Poland (above) did just enough, but coach Adam Nawalka will find few positives from a lethargic performance.
Lewandowski, top-scorer with 13 goals during a blistering qualifying campaign, has yet to find the net in four Euro 2016 outings.
Milik, the 22-year-old talent touted for big things, continues to miss easy chances.
Even the much-vaunted Polish defence, which did not concede a single goal during the group stage, looked stretched and clueless once Switzerland turned on the style in the second half.
It started brightly for Lewandowski and Co. though.
They could have taken the lead inside a minute. A poor backpass by defender Johan Djourou saw Lewandowski sneak in on goal, before goalkeeper Yann Sommer came sliding in to make the block.
The ball ricochetted to Milik at the edge of the area but, with an open goal to aim at, the Ajax Amsterdam forward missed the target.
Just after the half-hour mark, Milik again found himself with an excellent opportunity, but his shot was wild.
For the second match in a row, Blaszczykowski put his side in front.
Showing the composure and finishing missing from Poland's frontline, he unleashed a stiff grounder through the legs of Sommer to give Poland a first-half lead.
But Switzerland returned from the break looking the hungrier side.
Shaqiri fired the first warning to the Poles when he forced Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski into a fine save after cutting inside and whipping in an effort from the edge of the box shortly after the restart.
Ricardo Rodriguez's solid 73rd-minute free-kick was flying towards the top-right corner until Fabianski's timely intervention.
Five minutes later, Haris Seferovic rattled the Polish bar.
The Swiss finally got the equaliser they deserved when Shaqiri thumped in his late stunner to force the game into extra-time.
In the 113th minute, Fabianski again pulled off a world-class save, this time from Eren Derdiyok's header at point-blank range.
The final whistle came as a huge relief to Poland. Eventually, Xhaka's miss gave them a victory they didn't deserve. If yesterday's performance was anything to go by, they will soon be following the Swiss out of France.
He’s disappointed, but that’s football and mistakes can happen. I think Granit is very professional and he can cope with it.
— Xherdan Shaqiri (left, No. 23) says Arsenal-bound Granit Xhaka can cope with Euro 2016 heartache after his penalty miss sends Poland into the quarter-finals at Switzerland’s expense