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Pressure is for tyres – Alan Shearer lauds England’s composure in shoot-out

Alan Shearer praised how England handled the pressure after they came through a penalty shoot-out against Switzerland to reach the Euro 2024 semi-finals.

England required spot-kicks to reach the last four after a 1-1 draw after extra time in Dusseldorf.

Bukayo Saka had scored England’s equaliser in the 80th minute after Breel Embolo had put the Swiss ahead five minutes earlier.

Saka then held his nerve from the spot as England prevailed in 5-3 in the shoot-out, with Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Ivan Toney and Trent Alexander-Arnold also successful and Jordan Pickford saving from Manuel Akanji.

Former England captain Shearer told BBC Sport: “Palmer, Bellingham, Saka, Toney, Trent. Pressure? What pressure?

“Pressure is for tyres! It’s a different generation. They don’t feel it.

“How confident were they? They had the belief. They somehow found the energy to get themselves into the semi-final.”

Shearer also felt manager Gareth Southgate – who missed when England lost on penalties to Germany in Euro 96 – deserved a lot of credit.

He said: “They’ll be absolutely ecstatic and so they should because they have put an incredible shift in.

“A big shout-out to the manager because he has missed a penalty, he knows what it feels like. He also knows the other side, in terms of being a manager.

“His preparation was absolutely key. The players he brought on to take penalties were just perfect.

England manager Gareth Southgate punches the air in celebration after victory over Switzerland
Shearer was also keen to praise manager Gareth Southgate (Adam Davy/PA)

“We know how pressurised that situation is and they made it look so easy.

“We’ve been wanting a performance. They could still do better but they’re through – that’s the main thing.”

Former England striker Gary Lineker, whose criticism of the team earlier in the tournament made headlines, felt the players could be proud this time.

Lineker said: “Beautiful, just beautiful – perfection, nerveless, magnificent.

“Boy, did those boys stand tall. In the moment of need they just stood up to be counted. They just showed no nerves.”

Rio Ferdinand wearing sunglasses at a football stadium
Rio Ferdinand felt England were much improved (Nigel French/PA)

Ex-England defender Rio Ferdinand felt the overall performance was much improved on recent games.

He said: “It was wonderful to watch. We have been crying out as a nation, as pundits, as media, for a performance we can be proud of, that we can look at and go, ‘that’s our boys, that’s our team’. Today, it wasn’t perfect but it was such an improvement.

“Then, nerves of steel when it mattered, when it got down to penalties.

“The penalty-takers, technically, were perfect. They looked like a bunch that just had supreme confidence when you looked at them walking up to take penalties, and they despatched them. Magnificent.”

Frank Lampard also felt Southgate got his big decisions right.

The former England midfielder said: “I think Gareth deserves a lot of credit. He knows the pressure that comes with this job.

England’s Bukayo Saka scores his penalty during the Euro 2024 shoot-out victory over Switzerland
Gary Neville was pleased for Saka (Adam Davy/PA)

“He’s taken some serious pressure and he’s made a couple of calls there, change of system, Saka playing on the right, Foden playing right 10, a lot of decisions in the game worked. There is a lot to go on here.”

Another past England player, Gary Neville, was more measured in his praise but was pleased for Saka after his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.

Neville said on ITV: “I think we’ve just got to resign ourselves now to the fact it’s going to be a bit of a struggle.

“We’re not going to be at our absolute fluid best and we are basically going to have to work our way through games.

“It is an unbelievable position for us to be in. The confidence is growing and we have a good group of players that know how to get to this stage of a competition.

“I’m so happy for Saka. His smile just radiates joy. Obviously what he went through three years ago was something very difficult and I have seen many players go through that and not return from it, they’ve not had the same confidence. He is a brilliant player.”

Away from Germany, England’s success came after George Russell led a home one-two-three from Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris in qualifying for Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

Mercedes pair Russell and Hamilton watched the match together on a big screen with fans at Silverstone and were seen celebrating after the winning penalty.