Euro 2020 Report: France 3 - 3 Switzerland AET (Switzerland win 5-4 on penos)Tue, Jun 29 2021
A night of unbelievable drama was played out at the National Arena in Bucharest as Switzerland came from 3-1 down with only ten minutes left to force a 3-3 draw with France and sending the game into extra time. In the penalty shootout that followed extra time, the Swiss held their nerve to win 5-4 and advance to the quarter finals where they will face Spain.
Tournament favourites France will be at a loss to understand how they let a two-goal advantage slip with only ten minutes left on the clock. However tremendous credit must go to the Swiss who forced France onto the back foot in those closing period and scored two top drawer goals to leave it 3-3 at the end of normal time.
Switzerland got the game off to the best possible start with a well worked goal after 15 minutes. Steven Zuber, who was excellent throughout and who gave Rafael Varane a torrid time anytime he was on the ball, was the creator of their opening goal.
Running at the French defence from deep, he checked his run and dinked the ball into the box where Haris Seferovic rose above centre back Clement Lenglet to power a header into the net.
The goal was no more than they deserved as France seemed a bit complacent and big-name players such as Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema were not influencing the game as they usually do for Didier Deschamps side.
Switzerland could well have had a second goal before the break when hardworking centre forward Breel Embolo was free inside the box but could not sort his feet quickly enough and although he won a corner the chance was lost.
Deschamps took some decisive action at half time, withdrawing defender Lenglet in favour of an attacker, Kinsley Coman, however within nine minutes of the restart they almost fell 2-0 behind.
Benjamin Pavard fouled Zuber on the edge of the box, Argentinian referee Fernando Rapallini checked with VAR and then awarded a penalty. Ricardo Rodriguez took the penalty kick and while it was well struck Hugo Lloris got down well to save it, giving France a much-needed lifeline at that stage of the match.
That save really spurred France to take control of the match which they did in a dramatic fashion with two Karim Benzema goals in the space of two minutes.
In the 56th minute, he showed good close control in the box before stabbing the ball past Yann Sommer for the equaliser and two minutes later Antoine Griesmann slalomed through the Swiss defence before clipping the ball past Sommer to allow Benzema head it into an empty net.
France was now at its imperious best and the likes of Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Griezmann began to dominate the middle third of the pitch.
It seemed like Pogba had put the final nail in the Swiss coffin in the 74th minute when he scored a stunning goal from all of 30 meters, giving Sommer no chance with a strike into the top right-hand corner of the net.
Swiss manager Vladimir Petkovic made some significant substitutions just prior to Pogba’s goal and they both made major contributions to the Swiss comeback.
Kevin Mbabu, who had come on for Silvan Widmer, put in an excellent cross from the right wing and Seferovic again got ahead of the French centre backs to power home his second goal of the night in the 80th minute.
The other substitute Mario Gavranovic scored the dramatic equaliser in the 89th minute. Pogba was dispossessed in midfield and the ball was played through to Gavranovic who showed great composure before firing the ball past Lloris in the French goal.
The game was delicately poised at 3-3 heading into extra time and as both sides wilted in the 28 degree heat in Bucharest, it was possible that one mistake could lead to a fourth and decisive goal for either side.
Both sides did have half chances during the two 15-minute periods of extra time, substitute Oliver Giroud and Mbappe missed opportunities for France although on each occasion they were under severe pressure from the Swiss for whom Granit Xhaka was absolutely immense in front of the back four.
The extra half an hour did not produce any more goals and the inevitable tension that follows any penalty shoot-out was there in abundance as the final act was played out in this sensational drama at the National Arena.
The quality of the penalty kicks was of the highest standard as the score reached 5-4 in favour of Switzerland, however Kylian Mbappe was the villain of the piece for France as his poorly struck kick was saved by Sommer – Switzerland march on to the quarter finals, France go home!
France: Hugo Lloris; Raphael Varane, Clément Lenglet (Kingsley Coman 46), Presnel Kimpembe; Benjamin Pavard, Adrien Rabiot, Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kanté; Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann (Moussa Sissoko 87), Karim Benzema (Olivier Giroud 98).
Subs not used: Corentin Tolisso, Steve Mandanda, Mike Maignan, Thomas Lemar, Lucas Hernández, Léo Dubois, Wissam Ben Yedder, Kurt Zouma.
Booked: Raphael Varane (30), Benjamin Pavard (96).
Switzerland: Yann Sommer; Manuel Akanji, Nico Elvedi, Ricardo Rodriguez (Admir Mehmedi 87); Remo Freuler, Xherdan Shaqiri (Mario Gavranovic 73), Silvan Widmer (Kevin Mbabu 73), Granit Xhaka, Steven Zuber (Christian Fassnacht 79); Breel Embolo (Ruben Vargas 79), Haris Seferovic (Fabian Schar 101).
Subs not used: Loris Benito, Edimilson Fernandes, Gregor Kobel, Yvon Mvogo, Djibril Sow, Denis Zakaria.
Booked: Ricardo Rodriguez (61), Granit Xhaka (76), Manuel Akanji (114).
Referee: Fernando Rapallini (Argentina).
Extratime.com Player of the Match: Granit Xhaka (Switzerland)