All they were playing for was a bag of bronze medals UEFA apparently planned to leave in the winning dressing room after the game and for two hours here in Guimaraes you could sense as much.
But penalties always create a bit of drama and this was no exception, with Jordan Pickford and Eric Dier once again emerging as the heroes. On this occasion Pickford even scored England’s fifth penalty before making the save that denied Switzerland’s Josip Drmic and so secured victory for Gareth Southgate’s side.
Under Southgate England have at least become good at holding their nerve in such circumstances. When Dier scored in sudden death it was their sixth straight successfully-converted spot-kick and allowed them to reflect on a second straight win in competitive shoot-outs when, prior to Colombia 12 months ago, their record had been so poor.
This was also only the second time England had won a third-place play-off after losing to Belgium last year and Italy in 1990. This team can now say they matched the 1968 efforts of the heroes of ’66, and they did so employing the same strategy they developed at the World Cup. Even down to Pickford walking out to meet each team-mate as they made that long, lonely walk from the half-way line.
One year on from being dumped out the World Cup semi-finals by Croatia, the Three Lions were defeated 3-1 by Holland on Thursday in the final four of the Nations League, setting up a clash with Switzerland.
Switzerland were also beaten 3-1 on Wednesday by Portugal courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick and will also hope to avoid consecutive defeats when they face off against Gareth Southgate’s men at the Estadio Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes for the 2pm kick-off.