Jordan Pickford penalty heroics as England win Nations League shootout [Photos]
Jordan Pickford was desperate to be England’s shoot-out hero — after insisting he was never going to miss.
Pickford pulled off a spectacular save as the Three Lions won their Nations League third-place play-off against Switzerland on penalties having also scored himself in the shoot-out even though he has never taken a spot-kick before in a game.
The Everton star, who became the first England keeper to take a penalty in a shoot-out, said: “I was a bit nervous taking my penalty, but I'm not nervous saving them.
“We practice them consistently and I always pick my spot and always seem to score, but I had never taken one in a real game. First ever. I took some back in school but I’d never taken one in a competitive football match. So it was a bit more nerve-racking, shall we say? But I got over it!
“I practised a lot in training in the last three weeks, taking penalties. They might be decisive and everyone has to be ready to take one if it comes to it. The gaffer gave me No5... I relaxed, went through my routine I've been practising, and stepped up.”
Gareth Southgate’s men were given bronze medals for finishing third in the Nations League after a goalless play-off went to extra time and then penalties with neither team able to break the deadlock.
After suffering years of losing in shootouts, the Three Lions have now won two in a row having also seen off Colombia in the last 16 of the World Cup a year ago.
Manager Southgate said: “For me, the significant step is the level of disappointment that we leave here having not got to the final and winning the trophy. That took some lifting in the last couple of days for everybody. None of us was satisfied.
“We played fine on Thursday [in losing a semi-final to the Netherlands 3-1 after extra time] but made ridiculous mistakes. It was important we responded today with a high level of performance.
“The players adapted and changed the shape, and played well. We should have won the game with the opportunities we created.
“We've hit a certain level, but it's not a level we're satisfied with. We have to go again. The first summer we played Scotland and France, and we learned a lot from the game but were really unhappy with the performance.
“That inspired us to improve. The drive from the players has given me energy. The commitment is there. They're not satisfied with where they're at.”
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