Fans hail Trent Alexander-Arnold as Liverpool hero blasts England into Euro 2024 semifinals

Alexander-Arnold's penalty advanced England to the semifinals
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Trent Alexander-Arnold capped England's dominant shootout performance with a thunderous strike into the top-right corner and wheeled away in celebration, securing the Three Lions' nervy 1-1 (5-3) escape from Switzerland at Euro 2024.

The Liverpool right-back was showered with praise from relieved England fans online after his decisive finish, which helped advance his country to the Euro 2024 semi-final and erase a painful penalty shootout legacy.

"Make your apologies as loud as your disrespect for Trent Alexander-Arnold," one fan wrote after the Liverpool right-back had faced criticism after a move to midfield. "G-d save the king (Trent Alexander-Arnold)" another patriotic commenter wrote.

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It was another uninspired performance for England before the shootout, playing a deficient Swiss team fairly evenly and nearing elimination after Breel Embolo converted a sliding back-post finish 15 minutes from full-time. However, Bukayo Saka capped off an incisive run from the left wing five minutes later with a brilliant finish, and England rode a 1-1 draw into penalty kicks.

England manager Gareth Southgate has been widely criticized by fans, despite advancing to the semifinals, for the Three Lions' poor performances and conservative approach, but was lauded for the decision to place Alexander-Arnold as the fifth penalty taker. "Southgate was setting Trent up for glory...," one commenter wrote. "Penalty number 5 has always belonged to seasoned players. People who can hold their nerve. Players who are clutch."

Of England's last 17 major tournaments dating back to 1990, England had been eliminated from seven by way of a penalty shootout entering this summer's European champions, winning just two spot-kick competitions during that stretch. Blunders from 12 yards out stand among the most painful memories for even the youngest England supporters, as the Three Lions lost the last Euros on spot kicks against Italy in the final from Wembley Stadium.

England was eliminated from EURO 2020 on penalties
England was eliminated from EURO 2020 on penalties -Credit:Getty Images

However, the current crop of England stars alongside Alexander-Arnold has proved perfectly suited to erase this painful three-decade legacy, with Harry Kane, Ivan Toney and Cole Palmer all tasked with primary penalty responsibilities at club level. "England penalty curse gone, it might finally be coming home," another commenter added after the late-stage heroics.

"I'm not sure it's the ‘best group of penalty takers we've ever had,'" Kane added. "But it's probably the most experienced group we've had. If you compare the amount of takers we've got compared to the last Euros, I think having regular takers is important and (we have) players who have taken some in high-pressure penalty shootouts since or in big games since."

Alexander-Arnold began the tournament in a starting role alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham in the midfield but was benched for England's final group-stage game after a pair of poor performances. The native Liverpudlian entered in the 115' of Saturday's game for Phil Foden and was productive in limited minutes, completing all five of his pass attempts and making a crucial interception four minutes later.

"Incredible. These are the goals we set for ourselves. The team showed a lot of character, belief, heart and spirit, dug deep when it mattered most," Alexander-Arnold told the BBC about reaching the semifinals. We knew we were never going to run away with the game, so whatever it takes, no matter what, we win. That’s all that matters to us."