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SWISS JOY: Switzerland knock out France after penalties decides thriller

SWISS JOY: Switzerland knock out France after penalties decides thriller

PA

Switzerland knock out France from Euro 2020 after a thrilling game was decided by a penalty shoot-out in Bucharest.

France looked to be cruising into the quarter-finals after they had come from a goal down to lead 3-1 with 10 minutes of normal time left. However, Haris Seferovic grabbed his second goal of the game to half the defecit before Mario Gavranovic produced a moment of magic to level the match at 3-3 and take it to extra-time.

Switzerland impressed in a first half in which France struggled to get out of neutral although Les Bleus did have the first opportunity when Varane headed over, it was the Swiss who took the lead in the fifteenth minute. Steven Zuber clipped a lovely cross into the box from the left and Seferovic jumped early to get above Clement Lenglet and direct his header into the bottom corner of the net.

For the rest of the first half, Switzerland imposed a measure of control that we had not seen throughout the group stage and France were not able to produce anything of note.

As a result, manager Didier Deschamps changed the system at half-time by bringing on an extra attacker in Kingsley Coman for defender Lenglet. Initially, this had no effect as Switzerland continued to look the more dangerous. One of their counter-attacks appeared to bear fruit as Benjamin Pavard brought down the impressive Zuber and a VAR intervention determined it was a penalty.

However, Ricardo Rodriguez never looked confident stepping up to the spot and France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris got down well to save. This seemed to be a turning point as five minutes later, the world champions were ahead. First, Karim Benzema controlled Kylian Mbappe’s pass with a great touch even though the ball was slightly behind him, before clipping a delicate finish over the advancing goalkeeper.

Then, in the 59th minute, Benzema scored his second goal to turn the game on its head. Yann Sommer saved Griezmann’s shot from a tight angle but the ball looped up to the far post where Benzema headed it in from close range.

Pogba looked to have put the seal on it with 15 minutes remaining with a superb effort from 25 yards out, curling the ball into the top corner of the net, but Seferovic headed his second goal of the game in the 81st minute to set up a more tense finale than France had anticipated.

Switzerland thought they had equalised two minutes later when Gavranovic controlled Rodriguez’s shot and poked the ball past Lloris, but the flag was correctly up for offside.

However, Gavranovic was not to be denied and struck in the final minute to level things up, reaching Granit Xhaka’s defence-splitting pass through the middle and beating Lloris with a low shot from the edge of the area.

Coman crashed a shot against the crossbar right at the death but the game went to extra time.

Sommer made a fine save to deny Pavard in the first half of extra time while Mbappe scuffed an effort into the side-netting from four yards out after the break when it looked like he was certain to score.

Sommer also plucked an Olivier Giroud header from the top corner in the final minute of extra time as the match went to penalties.

Manuel Akanji, Gavranovic, Fabian Schar, Ruben Vargas and Admir Mehmedi all scored for the Swiss in the shoot-out but Mbappe was unable to follow successful spot-kicks from team-mates Pogba, Giroud, Marcus Thuram and Presnel Kimpembe as Sommer pushed away his effort.

It is undoubtedly one of the biggest shocks at the Euros in recent memory as Switzerland knock out France and set up a quarter-final against Spain, who earlier beat Croatia 5-3 in another thriller.


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