Granit Xhaka has apologized on his Facebook page, after missing his penalty shot for Switzerland, propelling opponents Poland into the quarter-finals of the Euro 2016. Poland beat Switzerland 5-4 on penalties, after a 1-1 draw. Xhaka wrote an emotional message after the match, which he posted to his official account on Facebook, in which he said that he is sorry to “teammates, the fans, cheerers for Switzerland.”
The round-of-16 knock-out match at the idyllic and historically significant valley of Saint Etienne in France saw the new Arsenal midfielder kick wide during the penalty shootout, earning both Xhaka and the club a fair share of jokes on social media — most touching upon Arsenal’s famous tendency to “bottle,” or show a lack of resilience when faced with stressful situations.
Arsenal fans after that Xhaka miss… pic.twitter.com/0M7V9r8IBQ
— Footy Funnys UK (@FootyFunnysUK) June 25, 2016
The match at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard saw Switzerland crash out of the tournament following a match where Poland more than showed its mettle. Riding on the deciding penalty missed by Granit Xhaka, Poland has now risen through the stages of the tournament to reach the quarter-finals for the very first time.
Xhaka and team were trailing by a goal since the 39 minute mark, when Polish winger Jakub Blaszczykowski struck the first goal for the team.
Even though Poland dominated for most of the game, one of the most brilliant goals of the Euro 2016 came from the 82nd minute equalizer netted by Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri.
Shaquiri, who plays for English club Stoke City, executed a stunner of a bicycle kick out of an edge-of-the-box bounce. His neat goal — which is already being touted as the goal of the tournament — is small solace for Switzerland who will return home in spite of it.
— Patrick (@RatedRHero) June 25, 2016
Granit Xhaka, who is easily one of the most celebrated players of Switzerland, created history earlier in the Euro when he played against his brother, Toulant Xhaka, who decided to represent Albania, the country of origin of the brothers’ parents.
This was the first time that brothers had played on opposing teams in the Euro. While Switzerland emerged victorious at the end of the that historical encounter, they were denied the history of making it to the tournament’s quarter-finals for the first time thanks to a “horror” spot kick by Granit Xhaka.
Xhaka brothers ????????-????????
Taulant and Granit pic.twitter.com/kwhacreJ1Q
— Rogers Thercaj (@RogersThercaj) June 22, 2016
The second half also witnessed a series of yellow cards shown, to Schaer for bringing down Polish star Lewandowski and to Jedrzejczyk; meanwhile, Polish keeper Łukasz Fabiański pretty much struggled to ensure that the Swiss men’s attempts to get ahead were fouled.
As German club Bayern Munich’s celebrated, striker Robert Lewandowski worked hard to convert his efforts into a goal; Adam Nawałka’s Poland often looked the weaker side, especially going into extra time.
But, this weakness was not something that the Swiss team capitalized upon, with its attack suffering as Granit Xhaka, Shaquiri and Ricardo Rodriquez struggled to formulate a systematic attack.
Granit Xhaka’s miss was a cruel turn of events for Switzerland, who were firmly in place with Lichtsteiner’s first converted penalty which was followed by Lewandowski’s effortless volley, equalizing the penalty shootout at 1-1.
Few had expected a missed shot when Granit Xhaka came up second to take the shot for Switzerland. The man who is often compared to Bastian Schweinsteiger, because of his inspiring physical ability on the field, sliced a spot kick and sent the ball wide. With no other penalties missed by either of the teams, Poland were victorious to qualify for the quarter-finals, where they will now play against either Portugal or Croatia.
Granit Xhaka will remain the cynosure of many eyes when he travels to London to play in the English Premier League.
[Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images]