Euro 2020: Switzerland knock World cup winners France out in thriller

Switzerland beat France 5-4 on penalties courtesy of Kylian Mbappe's missed penalty as the World Cup winners were knocked out of Euro 2020.

Switzerland beat France 5-4 on penalties to go through to the last-8 of Euro 2020; Credit: Twitter/@EURO2020

Euro 2020 witnessed a day of absolute shocks and surprises. Monday would be the day when goals would be scored galore. There would be more twists in the tale. After Spain knocked out World Cup finalists Croatia, unfancied Switzerland caused a massive upset and knocked World Cup winners France out. Switzerland came from behind to level the score at 3-3.

Kylian Mbappe’s missed penalty helped Switzerland to go through to the quarterfinals of Euro 2020 in what can be considered a major upset in Euro 2020. Haris Seferovic opened the scoring for Switzerland at Bucharest. But the second half was probably the most thrilling one of the competition so far. Karim Benzema scored a brace before Paul Pogba’s brilliant strike gave France a two-goal lead.

A Euro 2020 thriller in Bucharest

Meanwhile, Seferovic scored his second of the night to reduce the deficit before substitute Mario Gavranovic’s late strike took the game to extra time and then penalty shoot-out.

Seferovic scored in the 15th minute of the game to give the lead to Vladimir Petkovic’s side. Steve Zuber skipped past Benjamin Pavard and delivered a cross from the left side. The Benfica striker rose above his marker Clement Lenglet with a standing jump and generated enough power to brilliantly head the ball past French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to make the score 1-0. 

French boss Didier Deschamps surprisingly started with a 3-4-1-2 formation. He tried to utilize his front three- Benzema, Antoinne Griezmann and Mbappe. However, the tactics didn’t work out in the first half and Deschamps substituted Lenglet at the interval. He brought in Kingsley Coman and reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with midfielder Adrien Rabiot deployed as left-back.

Six minutes after the restart, Zuber went past Pavard with a powerful run on the left flank. The French right-back made a desperate sliding tackle to get the ball back. The referee did not give the penalty. However, VAR intervened and suggested a recheck. The Argentine referee rechecked at the side screen and awarded a penalty to the Swiss. Ricardo Rodriguez stepped up but his low shot was brilliantly saved by Lloris. The Tottenham custodian made a full stretch dive to his right side to deny Switzerland a two-goal lead.

Pogba’s brilliance and Benzema’s brace

At the other end, Pogba laid the ball to Mbappe at the left side of the penalty area. But, Mbappe’s strike went wide. A minute after the missed attempt, Benzema levelled the score at 1-1. The 33-year-old forward’s brilliantly improvised first touch allowed him to find the back of the net with his second. It was an outrageous piece of skill from Benzema, who was recalled after a gap of almost five and a half years.

Few minutes after the equalizer, Benzema scored his second of the night to give the lead to the World champions. This time, Griezmann played a one-two with Mbappe. Griezmann’s chipped attempt clipped the hands of Sommer and went to Benzema at the far post. He headed the ball from close range to score his fourth goal of the tournament.  In the 75th minute, Pogba’s marvelous curler from 25-yards out went straight to the top corner of Swiss goal. Sommer had no chance of saving it.

Switzerland’s comeback

The third goal everyone might have meant game over for Switzerland. But they did not give up. Seferovic scored his second of the night in the 81st minute. Kevin Mbabu’s brilliant cross from the right was headed in by Seferovic. Minutes later, Gravranovic thought he had leveled the score but was denied by the offside flag. In the dying minutes of the game, Gravranovic received the ball from Xhaka on the edge of the penalty area. The Dinamo Zagreb forward skipped past Kimpembe and unleashed low strike to make the score 3-3.

Coman’s attempt rattled the woodwork in the injury time before the match went to extra time. Olivier Giroud came on for Benzema in the extra time. Coman delivered a cut back to Pavard after a marauding run down the left flank. But Pavard’s attempt was superbly tipped over the crossbar by Sommer. Pogba picked up Mbappe’s run with a brilliant defense-splitting pass, but the PSG striker scuffed his attempt wide.

In the penalties, all the five Swiss penalty takers converted their chances. Mbappe’s spot-kick was saved by the keeper to take Switzerland through to the quarterfinals of Euro 2020. It was their first knockout victory in a major tournament in 83 years. They will take on Spain at St. Petersburg on Friday.

In the end the better team on the night won. Individual brilliance from the French side wasn’t enough to get the better of a Switzerland team.

Sportslumo Desk

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