Soccer-Spanish goalkeeping hero Simon hails counterpart Sommer


Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Quarter Final - Switzerland v Spain - Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia - July 2, 2021 Spain's Unai Simon celebrates with the man of the match trophy after winning the penalty shootout Pool via REUTERS/Kirill Kudryavtsev

SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon, who was named man of the match after saving two penalties in the 3-1 shootout win against Switzerland in their Euro 2020 quarter-final, said he would have given the award to opposite number Yann Sommer.

"I would have given Sommer the MVP," Simon was quoted as saying by Spanish daily Marca after Spain booked a semi-final berth against either Belgium or Italy at Wembley on Tuesday.

"Football has been fair, we are worthy winners. We must quickly rectify the mistakes and also keep our feet on the ground because a very difficult opponent is coming our way whoever it is," he added.

"In the semi-finals, you need to have the mentality that each game is new. Winning the European Championship should be the only thing on our minds now."

Simon also elaborated on his post-game celebrations with manager Luis Enrique.

"I have come a little up in the celebration, but it is what my body told me to do. It was a moment of euphoria."

Spain won the shootout after the match ended 1-1 following normal and extra time, with Simon keeping out shootout spot-kicks by Fabian Schar and Manuel Akanji, while Switzerland's Ruben Vargas blazed his shot over the bar.

Sommer made several superb saves to help the 10-man Swiss, who had midfielder Remo Freuler sent off for a studs-up challenge in the 77th minute, survive until the shootout.

Spain took an eighth-minute lead when Jordi Alba's strike deflected off Daniel Zakaria for an own goal but the Swiss levelled in the 68th through Xherdan Shaqiri.

"I had a flashback when we conceded the goal because it was the same as the one we conceded here against Sweden three years ago," Sommer told UEFA's official website.

"But I’m so proud of the team, what we’ve achieved here with the whole country behind us."

Former Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas tweeted "The Outstanding Simon" and the country's former defender Gaizka Mendieta also heaped praise on the keeper.

"Some great goalkeeping there from Unai Simon and this time Spain were a bit luckier than Switzerland," said Mendieta.

"It was a very intense shootout but we're in the semi-finals and that’s what counts. I'm very happy. It’s going to be a very tough game but for now let’s enjoy the fact that we made it through."

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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