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Declan Rice played hidden role in England’s penalty success vs Switzerland

Declan Rice played hidden role in England’s penalty success vs Switzerland

Declan Rice may not have been one of the penalty takers in England‘s nail-biting shootout triumph over Switzerland, but he still played a pivotal role for his team.

Despite not stepping up to the spot himself during the tense moments in Dusseldorf, Rice was a pillar of support from the halfway line as team-mates Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney, and Trent Alexander-Arnold stepped up.

All five players each confidently dispatched their penalties past Swiss keeper Yann Sommer. If it hadn’t been for England’s saviour Jordan Pickford parrying away Manuel Akanji’s shot, Rice might have been called upon to take a crucial penalty to propel the Three Lions into the Euro 2024 semi-finals.

The Arsenal midfielder, who had previously scored a penalty in the Gunners’ Champions League shootout win against Porto last season, assumed a different yet essential role this time around.

“Dec was our speaker who was keeping everyone calm, calming everyone down, telling everyone to do their breathing techniques and manifest it,” team-mate Luke Shaw disclosed. “It was needed.”

Rice wasn’t alone in his off-pitch contributions; Kyle Walker also played a part in bolstering England’s chances in the 5-3 penalty victory. “I think Walks helped him a little bit,” added Shaw, who joined the fray as a second-half substitute in his first tournament showing.

“I could see Walks was pointing to his left. Walks was pointing to that side and it gave him extra help. I think he was already going that way, but it gave him some extra help to know where to go.”

England showed nerves of steel from the penalty spot after a tense 1-1 draw at the end of extra-time. The Three Lions, set to clash with the Netherlands on Wednesday for a spot in the final, have impressively clinched three out of four penalty shootouts under the guidance of Gareth Southgate.

The England boss lauded his squad for their cunning tactics. “There’s what we ideally want to be and then there’s how we’ve needed to find ways to win with all the obstacles we’ve had,” Southgate said.

“Going back to losing players a couple of months ago, losing players just before the tournament, different balance of the team, different challenges all the way through, really.”

“But as I said to the players, with England it was often start 25 minutes really well, ahead in games and then and then out in the early knockout rounds. We weren’t savvy, we weren’t tournament wise. This group are different.”

“They keep possession for longer periods. We haven’t always got it right. The games we’ve ultimately gone out in people can always look back and highlight things.”