Gareth Southgate changed his system – now he needs to change the players if England have any chance of winning Euro 2024

BUKAYO SAKA showed huge courage as he dug England out of a hole and through on penalties against Switzerland, writes Tom Barclay.

The Three Lions looked to be going out when Breel Embolo had put Swiss ahead on 75 minutes.

But Arsenal star Saka dragged England back into five minutes later with a stunning effort off the post.

To penalties it went – just like it did between these two sides five years ago in the Nations League.

And just like back then, Jordan Pickford made a save – repelling the Swiss’s first effort from Manuel Akanji.

England were perfect from then on, with Cole Palmer, Jude Bellignam, Saka, Ivan Toney and finally Trent Alexander-Arnold sending the Three Lions into the semi-final.

Here’s how the players rated…

Jordan Pickford: 7

Had his heart in his mouth when Xherdan Shaqiri’s corner deep into extra-time hit the post and bar, but then pulled off a smart stop to take it to penalties.

Saved Manuel Akanji’s first spot-kick by diving low to his left.

Kyle Walker: 6

Spent most of the game on the right side of a three which meant he could not get forward. Embolo got in front of him for Switzerland’s opener. Won the toss so the penalties were taken in front of the England fans.

John Stones: 6

Crisper passing in the first half, much better than his sloppy Slovakia display, but his deflection on Dan Ndoye’s cross diverted it to Embolo.

Ezri Konsa: 6

Was decent in the first half of his maiden start at a major tournament but, like the rest of the team, went into his shell after the break.

Kieran Trippier: 6

Had been expected to play right wing-back but was once again on the left.

Solid defensively but, as has been the case throughout the tournament, offered little going forward on his unnatural side.

Declan Rice: 7

Anticipated, and subsequently, won a number of 50-50s at the base of England’s midfield.

It was his decoy run that opened up the space for Saka to find the corner, before his 25-yard wonderstrike was denied by a flying Yann Sommer save in extra-time.

Kobbie Mainoo: 6

Some decent drives forward from midfield. Looked as if he would fire home an opener just before the break after

Bukayo Saka’s nice cutback, but was denied by Granit Xhaka’s excellent block.

Bukayo Saka: 8 and STAR MAN

Did not play at left wing-back as expected, but was England’s most dangerous attacking player throughout – and none more so when he came to the rescue with his 80th-minute leveller which flew in off the post.

Showed huge courage in the shoot-out as he stroked home his penalty beautifully, three years on from missing in the last Euros final.

Jude Bellingham: 6

Produced a few graceful dribbles which showcased his quality in the first half but pretty quiet.

Looked knackered but showed big cojones with his low penalty.

Phil Foden: 6

Admitted before the game that his central role would suit him better and it seemed to in the first 20 minutes, but faded after that.

Harry Kane: 4

This system just does not suit him. He needs runners, but does not look like he is going to get them.

Just could not get into the game and was subbed out of it in extra-time, seconds after he was sent crashing into his manager on the touchline.

SUBS

Cole Palmer (for Konsa, 78): 7

One of three players to come on in reaction to Switzerland’s opener – why did it take so long, Gareth? Dispatched England’s first spot-kick with aplomb.

Luke Shaw (for Trippier, 78): 6

First minutes of football since February, slotting in on the left side of back three as Southgate went for broke.

Eberechi Eze (for Mainoo, 78): 6

Carved out a nice bit of space for himself in the dying moments but fired wide.

Ivan Toney (For Kane, 109): 7

It was no surprise to see him come with the prospect of penalties on the horizon – what was more of a shock was that it was for spot-kick maestro Kane. Was knocked over in the box right at the end of extra-time, but nothing was given. Confident penalty.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (for Foden, 115): 7

Thrown on late into extra-time. Belted home his spot-kick to win it.

Gareth Southgate: 4

The adjusted back three system worked to a certain extent, but still the approach looked to be to keep it tight and rely on a moment of magic.

Saka provided that for the leveller, but given the talent at his disposal, it seemed very limited.

Took an age to make a change – prompted only by Switzerland going ahead. But got his subs right when it came to the penalty shoot-out.

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