KEIR RADNEDGE in DUSSELDORF —- Managers Murat Yakin and Gareth Southgate led Switzerland and England into their UEFA Euro quarter-final here under contrasting weights of expectation. For Yakin, bringing the Nati this far had been already a success; for Southgate, England’s 5-3 win on penalties after a tense 1-1 extra-time draw once more staved off judgment day.

The Three Lions will play Netherlands in the semi-finals in Dortmund on Wednesday; their second successive European semi-final.

Shootout heroes were Jordan Pickford for saving the first Swiss kick by Manuel Akani and then substitute Trent Alexander-Arnold for making it five out of five with the decisive last shot. Along the way Bukayo Saka courageously banished the spectre of his Euro 2020 agony by converting England’s third penalty.

History always spoke for England. They had lost only three times in 31 duels with the Swiss and the last defeat, by 2-1, had been 1 back in the World Cup qualifiers in 1981. However this once Switzerland started narrow favourites as the form team.

Murat Yakin and Gareth Southgate: technical area torment

Media reports had suggested that Southgate, chastened by England’s disturbing failure to live up to their pre-tournament status as Euro favourites, would switch to a three-man defence. Not true. England set up much as before at the back while adjusting the roles of Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden in support of captain Harry Kane.

Initially England appeared happier, moving the ball with more intent than in fheir previous outings, albeit without intimidating the Swiss who were quick to nibble at any possible opening in the England defence.

England forced the first corner after 20 minutes and a second after half an hour, made a mess of taking it short and playing all the way back to keeper Jordan Pickford. That summed up a first half which ended without a shot in anger, let alone a goal.

Finally, after 50 minutes the first attempt at a goal was delivered by Breel Embolo on the turn, bringing a low save from Pickford. The goalkeeper was then relieved to pick up the loose ball as it ricocheted off the heads of Ezri Konsa and Embolo after a left-wing cross.

Switzerland were now picking up the pace, to the delight of their cowbell-ringing fans, and Michel Aebischer shot wastefully high and wide after pouncing on a loose clearance from John Stones.

A measure of England’s increasing frustration with a match whose tide was now running against them was the sight of Kane being booked for a foul on Manuel Akanji,

Switzerland, increasingly confident, took the lead in the 75th minute. John Stones jabbed his foot at a right-wing cross and Embolo, behind him, stabbed it into the net.

Desperate situations demand desperate measures. Southgate sent on Eberechi Eze, Cole Palmer and barely-fit Luke Shaw and was rewarded with a typical Arsenal-type equaliser from Saka, cutting inside and beating Yann Sommer with an angled cross-shot.

So to extra time again albeit without an instant goal from Kane, as against Slovakia though Sommer flew left to push a 25-meter drive from Declan Rice around his left-hand post. Next the Swiss keeper pulled a Bellingham high out of the air with England – fheir substitutes all making an impact – now back in command.

Yet it was a Swiss substitute, Xherdan Shaqiri who nearly won the game when his right-wing corner curled in and struck the England crossbar before Pickford was called upin to make a sharp-stand-up save from a drive by Amdouni Zeki .

And so to the inevitable denouement to Southgate’s 100th match as manager.

Penalties (England first): Palmer 1-0, Akanji saved 1-0; Bellingham 2-0, Schar 2-1; Saka 3-1, Shaqiri 3-2; Eze 4-2, Amdouni 4-3; Alexander-Arnold 5-3.