England in shootout triumph over Switzerland thanks to heroics of ex-Preston North End loanee Jordan Pickford

England hero Jordan Pickford
England hero Jordan Pickford

England 0 Switzerland 0 (England win 6-5 on penalties)

Former Preston North End loan star Jordan Pickford was England’s penalty shoot-out hero once again as Gareth Southgate’s men eventually overcame Switzerland to bring an exciting end to a tepid third-place play-off in the Nations League.

Three days on from losing their semi-final to Holland due to two defensive gifts and a narrow offside call, the Three Lions returned to a far quieter Estadio D Afonso Henriques for the battle for bronze.

Callum Wilson thought he had grabbed a late winner ruled until the video assistant referee intervened in Guimaraes, where England dominated throughout only for the match to end 0-0 after 120 minutes.

The match went to spot-kicks and Everton keeper Pickford again came into his own in the shootout, denying Josip Drmic in sudden death after scoring his own spot-kick as the Three Lions won 6-5 on penalties.

Pickford spent five months on loan at Preston North End in 2015, making 27 appearances for the Lilywhites before returning to parent club Sunderland.

Pickford admitted he was nervous stepping up to take his penalty and felt England showed their character in the victory.

He said: “It was a very tough game and I think our character to get through 120 minutes on Thursday and to have to go through another tough game today, 120 minutes and penalties.

“We showed character and belief again and sometimes it’s hard to get up for a game like this but it just shows us where we want to go and how we get better as a team and bounce back.

“We always say, ‘Do what it takes to win a game’ and I was a bit nervous taking my pen, but I’m not nervous saving them.”

It was a positive note at the end at the end of a forgettable match that at least brings the team bronze medals and penalty confidence ahead of Euro 2020.

England should have had the match wrapped up long before the shootout, though, with the Swiss goal frame rattled four times across the 120 minutes.

Southgate’s men even thought they had snatched an 84th-minute winner through Wilson, only for VAR to spot his foul on Manuel Akanji.

It meant an extra 30 minutes of the match no one wanted and eventually penalties, with Pickford emulating his last-16 heroics against Colombia at last year’s World Cup as England won another shootout.