The PSG forward missed a crucial penalty, allowing Switzerland to reach the quarterfinals at the expense of the defending world champions.
Coach Didier Deschamps defended his star striker Kylian Mbappe after he missed a crucial penalty that sent France out of Euro 2020 against Switzerland in Bucharest on Monday. Switzerland, which took the lead, found themselves 1-3 down in the second half, but they scored two late goals within the 90 minutes to send the game into extra-time, which eventually reached the penalty shootout. The talented PSG forward was the only man to miss in the shootout, allowing Switzerland to reach the quarterfinals at the expense of the defending world champions. The Swiss will next play Spain in the last-8 of the competition.
“Nobody can be annoyed with him,” the France manager said. “When you take the responsibility, it can happen. He is obviously very affected by it. Kylian takes responsibility, he feels guilty, but he shouldn’t. The squad is united, it always has been.” After nine perfectly-taken penalties in the shootout, Mbappe’s spot-kick was stunningly saved by Yann Sommer, sparking wild celebrations from the Swiss camp.
After the missed kick, French players did their best to console Mbappe. France captain, Hugo Lloris does not want to point fingers and said everyone is responsible for getting eliminated from the tournament. “We win together, we lose together,” he said. “We are all responsible for being eliminated at this stage of the competition. There is no pointing fingers.”
Mbappe released a statement later, apologising for his penalty miss. “It is very difficult to turn the page. I am sorry for this penalty. I wanted to help the team but I failed. Finding sleep will be difficult, but unfortunately those are the risks of the sport that I love so much.”
The PSG forward promised to come back from this stronger. “I know that you, the fans, are disappointed, but I would still like to thank you for your support and always believing in us. The most important thing is to come back even stronger next time. Congratulations and good luck to the Swiss,” he added.
The French side were labeled as one of the favourites to lift the trophy. After losing in the finals in 2016, this time France were expected to go one step further, but that was not the case in the end. After the match, Deschamps said he is “responsible” when things go badly. “That is not the question,” he said of his future.
“There is a unity and solidarity in this squad. I am responsible, when things go badly, I am with them, they are with me. We will need time to manage this. There are no magic formulas, there are balances for us to find in the future.”
Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka was understandably delighted with his country’s first progression to the quarterfinal of a major tournament since 1954. “I always said this team deserved a lot more than you read,” he said.
“There was so much discussion about this team, they even said we’re arrogant. But I can guarantee you one thing: we really wrote history tonight. All Swiss people, no matter who they are or where they live, all the players, we achieved something. It’s impossible to describe with words. We wrote history and we can be really proud.”