UEFA Nations League: England finish third

England’s keeper Jordan Pickford scored and saved in a shootout as they beat Switzerland 6-5 on penalties to finish third in the Nations League on Sunday after the game ended goalless following extra time. Pickford produced an outstanding save to keep out Josip Drmic’s spot kick low to his right to win the game, after both teams had converted all their previous penalties. The Everton keeper had rifled home a spot kick himself with a thundering left-foot strike, making him the first-ever goalkeeper to take and score a penalty for England in a competitive shootout, as Gareth Southgate’s side got a deserved win after dominating the game. England, who were beaten by the Netherlands after extra time in their semi-final on Thursday, picked up their first victory in a third-place playoff game since the 1968 European Championship. “It was a very tough game but after 120 minutes on Thursday as well we showed character. This is how we get better as a team by bouncing back,” said Pickford. Southgate said Pickford took the penalty on merit. “We’ve done a lot of work over the three weeks on (penalties) and that’s come to fruition,” he added. “We all know the history so it’s important for our players and maybe important for other teams that they start to think that we’re getting a bit better at them.” England thought they had grabbed victory in normal time when substitute Callum Wilson scored in the 84th minute but to their dismay Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan enlisted the help of VAR and the goal was chalked off due to a push by the Bournemouth striker. Raheem Sterling’s cross from the left was headed against the bar by Dele Alli and Wilson reacted well to turn the loose ball in but the review showed that the forward had pulled down his marker Manuel Akanji as he ran into the box. The technology had also denied England a likely winner in their defeat to the Dutch, when Jesse Lingard’s 83rd-minute goal was ruled out after the use of VAR. England striker Harry Kane hit the bar early in Sunday’s match and the team could also point the finger at some poor finishing from Sterling, who missed a series of opportunities. Alli had a header superbly saved by Yann Sommer in extra time from one of several excellent crosses by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sterling hit the crossbar with a free kick.  

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