It was a successful quarter-finals for both of Leeds United’s two last-men standing (for their teams anyway), with Spain and England both heading to Wembley for their respective semi-final clashes with Italy and Denmark.
Kalvin Phillips started again for England and racked up 65 minutes, however his club mate Diego Llorente is still yet to make an appearance at this summer’s finals.
But, importantly, both went through, which means I still have something to write about come Wednesday.
Phillips put in another solid midfield performance on Saturday night, completing 65 minutes for England as they thrashed Ukraine 4-0 in Rome.
Despite Gareth Southgate again opting to tweak his formation and lineup, Phillips’ partnership with Declan Rice in midfield has remained a constant throughout the tournament - both were substituted around the hour mark to protect from semi-final suspension - and has protected a defence that has now kept five clean sheets from five.
England went into the game as obvious favourites and there was a different kind of expectation following on from the Germany win.
It didn’t take long for any nerves to settle however, as with just four minutes gone, Raheem Sterling’s deft through ball found Harry Kane who prodded past Ukraine goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan for 1-0.
The first half that followed was one of pragmatism, with chances few and far between as England settled into their lead and Ukraine closed ranks and kept it to 1-0. Rice and Jadon Sancho both had half-chances that were saved by Bushchan, whilst Kyle Walker’s loose pass released Roman Yaremchuk, who’s near-post shot was saved by Jordan Pickford.
Southgate’s men came flying out of the blocks after the break, with Harry Maguire planting a header into the left-hand corner, from a Luke Shaw free-kick, after just one minute. England fans had barely caught their breath before Kane grabbed his second, and England’s third, nodding home a Shaw cross from close range.
Southgate opted to remove Rice - on a yellow - on the hour mark. His replacement, Jordan Henderson, put the game beyond all doubt with England’s fourth goal, heading in a Mason Mount corner for his first ever England goal in 62 appearances.
Phillips was off promptly, following the fourth and final goal, with Southgate eager to protect the Leeds midfielder from missing the semi-final through suspension - the sub ended Phillips’ impressive run of having played every minute of England’s Euro 2020 campaign, although you think he would have been more than happy to remove the risk of missing the semis.
England now go back to Wembley to play Denmark in the semi-finals on Wednesday, with Phillips now available for that and a potential final on Sunday.
Spain advanced through to the semi-finals on Friday after beating Switzerland 3-1 on penalties in St. Petersburg, with the game level at 1-1 after both 90 and 120 minutes. Diego Llorente’s quest for Euro 2020 minutes goes on, however, as the centre-back was once again an unused substitute by manager Luis Enrique.
This was the first meeting between the two sides at a European Championships, and it took only eight minutes for the first goal to go in. Switzerland’s Denis Zakaria was the unfortunate victim of a cruel deflection that completely wrong-footed Yann Sommer, following a Jordi Alba volley.
As with the majority of their games so far, Spain dominated possession throughout and carved out some big chances - they recorded 73% possession during the full game and notched up 28 shots - but a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping kept the score at just 1-0 going into the break.
But Switzerland came out fighting for the second period and Spain’s centre-backs, as they have done all tournament, looked vulnerable - a case could easily be made for the inclusion of Llorente sooner rather than later.
Then with just over 20 minutes left a horrible mix up between Aymeric Laporte and Pau Torres released Remo Freuler, who’s square pass found Xherdan Shaqiri to stroke home for 1-1.
Freuler was then, somewhat harshly, sent off just nine minutes later after following through on Gerard Moreno, but despite some late pressure from Spain they managed to hold tight and take the game into extra-time.
Spain’s momentum gathered through extra-time and chances fell for Moreno, Alba and Olmo but all failed to beat the inspired Sommer.
The poor finishing carried through into the penalty shoot out where Spain missed two from five and Switzerland missed three from four, with Mikel Oyarzabal slotting home Spain’s winning penalty.
They go into a semi-final clash with Italy, following their win against Belgium, at Wembley on Tuesday, with Llorente once more hoping for an appearance at this year’s Euros.