Day 15 at Euro 2016 saw the start of the round of 16, with three tight clashes that saw Poland, Wales and Portugal head through, while Switzerland, Northern Ireland and Croatia left the competition.
The first last-16 football clash took place between Switzerland and Poland with Poland prevailing on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in normal and extra-time. Poland had the better of the first half and took the lead on 39 minutes.
Winger Kamil Grosicki fired a cross into the area which found Jakub Blaszczykowski at the far post and the former-Dortmund man fired through the legs of Yann Sommer in the Switzerland goal.
Switzerland seem to come out with more purpose in the second half and striker Haris Seferovic rattled the bar, before Vladimir Petkovic’s team equalised with just eight minutes left on the clock through a contender for goal of the tournament.
Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross was only half-cleared by Pazdan to the edge of the area, only for Stoke playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri to twist his body and produced a fantastic scissor-kick that beat Lukasz Fabianski all ends-up.
Switzerland were the stronger team in extra-time, but in the end the two teams looked to have settled for penalties. The only player to miss in the shoot-out was Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka who fired his spot-kick well wide of goal. Sevilla star Grzegorz Krychowiak stepped-up to score the winning penalty and send Poland through to the knockout stages.
The second last-16 tie also produced a tight game as Wales saw off fellow British team Northern Ireland 1-0 in Paris.
Wales’ midfielder Aaron Ramsey had a goal disallowed earlier in the game, but the Dragons did take the lead on 75 minutes in rather fortunate circumstances. Gareth Bale found space down the left and whipped in a cross and Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley stuck his leg out to prod the ball past his own ‘keeper.
Chris Coleman’s side will now face either Hungary or Belgium in the last-8 of the competition in their first ever European Championships campaign.
To complete a treble of close last-16 ties, Croatia and Portugal drew 0-0 in normal-time, only for Portugal to find a winner with just three minutes left in extra-time. Croatia came close to taking the lead just seconds earlier, as Ivan Perisic headed an effort against the post.
However, it was the Portuguese that won a rather dull contest in the end. Inevitably Cristiano Ronaldo was involved, as the Real Madrid star saw an effort on goal brilliantly saved by Danijel Subasic, only for Ricardo Quaresma to head home from a couple of yards out.
Portugal will now face Poland in the quarter-finals in a game that both teams will be confident of winning.