Harry Kane ‘calm and proud’ watching England’s shoot-out from sidelines

News Desk
England duo Harry Kane and Jordan Pickford
Harry Kane and Jordan Pickford celebrate beating Switzerland.

Harry Kane found himself in the unfamiliar role of a spectator as England beat Switzerland on penalties to seal a place in the Euro 2024 semi-finals – but was full of praise for his team-mates following the shoot-out success.

The England skipper had been substituted in extra time of the 1-1 draw in Dusseldorf and could only watch as Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney and Trent Alexander-Arnold all stepped up to dispatch their spot-kicks.

Jordan Pickford saved the first Swiss effort from Manuel Akanji and the 5-3 shoot-out win means England now face the Netherlands in Dortmund on Wednesday as they aim to make back-to-back Euros finals, with Kane suitably impressed by his team-mates.

“It was a new experience for sure but I was actually really calm,” said England’s all-time leading goalscorer.

“I see the way we prepare, I see the players on the pitch, we have got a lot of players who have taken penalties now and in high-pressure situations and take them for their clubs as well.

“I just think in those moments it is down to preparation, handling the situation, who can do that the best and who can execute when it really matters. You saw all the boys stepping up today plus Pickers and I’m really proud of them.”

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Toney’s penalty was arguably the most eye-catching as he stared down Yann Sommer and did not once look at the ball before beating the Switzerland goalkeeper from 12 yards.

The Brentford striker had replaced Kane during extra time after a rare off-day for the England captain and insisted he never considered veering away from his unusual approach to penalties.

“I always have my own routine and just focus and do what I always do which is I just take my time and roll it into the back of the net,” he said.

“I never look at the ball. Some people might see it as crazy but that is my routine and I stick to it, hopefully it will work again when it is needed.”

Pickford’s save from Manchester City defender Akanji proved to be the difference as the Everton stopper starred in a shoot-out once again for England.

He had a list of the Swiss players stuck to his drinks bottle with information on where he should dive for each one and it worked as he dived left to stop Akanji’s effort.

“I thought I hid it well, but obviously not!” he said of his research.

“I do my process but the referee stopped me doing what I normally like to do, but I still managed to save one and give the lads the opportunity. He was going to book me if I wasn’t going back on the line, so I had to play the game a little bit.

“I believe in my mentality that I’m going to save at least one penalty in the shoot-out, which I did, and the lads executed them fantastically.

“It is still a bit nervous even as a player but we had full faith in the lads who stepped up to take the first five that they were going to execute and they did.”

Saka banished the ghosts of three years ago when he was one of three players to miss in the Euro 2020 final shoot-out loss to Italy.

Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho also failed to convert and the trio were all victims of racist abuse on social media in the aftermath.

Saka, who had already cancelled out Breel Embolo’s opener to equalise in normal time, said he was “always going to put myself in that position” to take a penalty, while Sancho praised his effort on social media.

“I’m so proud of this guy! @bukayosaka87 You did it me for and Marcus brother!” he posted on his Instagram story.