MATCHDAY 14: Poland, Wales And Portugal Go Through To The Quarter Finals

Match day 14 consisted of the first three games of the round of 16 stage, first of which was played between Poland and Switzerland, and ended with the Polish team winning 5-4 on penalties.

The game was still tied at 1-1 after 120 minutes of open football, as Jakub Blaszczykowski’s 39th minute opener was cancelled out by Xherdan Shaqiri’s world-class overhead kick goal, which came from 18 yards out in the 82nd minute.

In the penalty shootout, Switzerland’s star midfielder Granit Xhaka missed his spot kick, and all five of Poland’s penalty-takers managed to convert theirs, thereby winning the shootout 5-4 and taking their country through to the quarter finals.

Watch the penalty shoot-out here:

Despite the loss, Xherdan Shaqiri was named the man of the match for his outrageous overhead kick goal, which so far looks the most likely contender to win the goal of the tournament award.

Poland boss Adam Nawałka heaped praises on the opposition as well as his own team in the post-match interview: “The Swiss are world class in defence and attack. It’s not surprising that when they were losing they chased the score. We had to drop deep to defend. That’s why they created chances. But what’s most important is that when they scored their goal, you could see the potential of my team. We were able to switch from defence to attack and we took back control of the game.”

Nawałka also had positive words to say about Robert Lewandowski, who still hasn’t scored a goal in Euro 2016: “Robert is doing phenomenal work for this team. He’s an incredibly important player for this side. He helps the team to be better, stronger. He’s creating chances for other players and creating space for other players, taking players away from them. I’m confident the break will happen in the next match, and let our opponents be afraid from there.”

On the other hand, Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic stated: “I’m very sad for Granit Xhaka, but it’s not just about him. Switzerland lost and I’m sad about that. The players gave everything and showed what they can do on the pitch. But unfortunately we made mistakes and paid for that.”

Poland will next play against Portugal in the quarter finals on Thursday.

Wales faced-off against Northern Ireland in the second game of match day 14, winning it 1-0.

The only goal of the game came in the 75th minute, when Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley directed a Gareth Bale cross into the back of his own net. McAuley’s own goal means that three own goals have now been conceded in Euro 2016, more than any other European Championship finals.

Wales defender James Chester was named the man of the match for his impressive performance in the Welsh defence.

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill reacted to the loss by stating: “It’s devastating. We were the better team on the day. I couldn’t ask anything more of the players throughout the tournament. Gareth McAuley knows he has to make one of those decisions on the cross – he had to judge whether there was someone behind him or not.”

Wales manager Chris Coleman also talked to BBC One following the game, where he said: “The good thing about these boys when we’re not playing well is that they have spirit. And at times we were hanging on. I’d rather be standing here in the quarter-final not playing at our best. We have to give credit to Northern Ireland – they made it very difficult to play against. They were the better team. We have to plan for the next game whoever it is. We’ll enjoy this tonight.”

Wales will play their next game in Lille on Friday, against either Hungary, or Belgium.

The final game of match day 14 was played between Croatia and Portugal, which the Portuguese won 1-0.

This was the second match of the day to go to extra time, but not to penalty shootouts, as Ricardo Quaresma found a late winner for Portugal in the 117th minute. The Besiktas winger headed in the goal from just two yards out, following the save Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subasic made from a Cristiano Ronaldo shot.

Apart from the goal, the game was otherwise uneventful, with the first shot of the game coming after 24 minutes 40 seconds – the latest so far in Euro 2016.

Croatia defender Domagoj Vida was named the man of the match for creating 3 chances, winning the possession 10 times, and making 6 clearances.

Croatia manager Ante Cacic expressed his disappointment in the post-match interview by stating: “Of course I’m sad. We had a great chance and a good draw. We knew if we beat Portugal we’d play Poland, but that’s tournaments. We always have to play against strong teams. I can only congratulate my players. What happened was we didn’t score; this is football.

“Portugal are a high-quality side with experienced players. If there’s a favourite to win the tournament, this is Portugal now. Everything was perfect apart form the fact we didn’t score. We weren’t successful in attack. We expected Portugal to counter and we were playing really well for 120 minutes, controlling the match, not conceding any chances except the last one that was our mistake – and we were punished for that.”

Portugal boss Fernando Santos also had his say: “It was a very tactical match. Portugal tried to take over but Croatia didn’t let us. Then again, Croatia tried to take over and we didn’t let them win either. We were up against an amazing team and this was always going to be tight and strong.

“We were ready for them and we set up to resist their strengths and take advantage of their weak spots. At times we could have passed the ball faster but Croatia influenced that. Sometimes you have to be pragmatic. It’d be nice to play pretty, but that’s not always how you win tournaments.”

The Portuguese will next face Poland in the quarter finals on Thursday.

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