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France 3-3 Switzerland (aet, 4-5 on penalties): Mbappe fails from the spot as favourites are elimina

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 28 Jun 2021

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Kylian Mbappe saw the crucial spot-kick saved by Yann Sommer as Euro 2020 favourites France were eliminated by Switzerland in a thrilling shoot-out after a dramatic 3-3 draw in Monday’s last-16 tie.

France looked to have battled back from the brink after going a goal down early on and conceding a penalty only to then find themselves 3-1 up with 15 minutes of regulation time remaining in Bucharest.

But a late Swiss fight-back saw Haris Seferovic net his second and Mario Gavranovic force extra-time after cancelling out Karim Benzema’s brace and Paul Pogba’s scorcher.

Both sides had chances in the extra 30 minutes but poor finishing meant the game went to penalties, where Mbappe’s disappointing tournament was summed up with the unsuccessful kick that sent France packing, Sommer diving to his right to make the save that sent remarkably sent Switzerland through 5-4 in the shoot-out.

At the start of a long evening, Switzerland deservedly went in front with 15 minutes played, Seferovic bullying Clement Lenglet before heading in Steven Zuber’s inch-perfect cross.

France’s response was initially tame as they failed to record a single shot on target in the first half of a Euros knockout match for only the second time since at least 1980.

They were then fortunate to not find themselves 2-0 down early in the second period as Lloris made a fine save to keep out Ricardo Rodriguez’s penalty after Zuber had been felled by Benjamin Pavard.

But that scare provided the jolt they needed as France were in front just four minutes and three seconds later.

Benzema equalised in stunning fashion as he prodded past Yann Sommer after somehow managing to bring an Mbappe pass under his control despite it being played behind him.

The Real Madrid star was then on hand to nod in from close range when Antoine Griezmann’s chip was nudged to him by Sommer.

Pogba sensationally picked out the top-right corner from 30 yards with a goal that should have finished Switzerland off in the 75th minute but Seferovic’s second headed goal of the game put France back under pressure.

Deschamps’ men received a let-off soon after as Gavranovic had a goal disallowed for offside but he was not to be denied in the 90th minute, brilliantly sidestepping danger before lashing into the bottom-left corner from 20 yards.

With Kingsley Coman only able to hit the crossbar deep into stoppage time, the game went to extra-time where Mbappe was guilty of a particularly galling miss after being teed up by Pogba.

As such, the game progressed to the shoot-out and the standard of spot-kick was initially exceptional, with the first nine penalties all converted.

But Mbappe shot to Sommer’s right and the goalkeeper made the vital stop as Switzerland won a penalty shoot-out for the first time ever in major tournaments.

 

What does it mean? Les Bleus blow it as Swiss refuse to roll over

Once it got to the penalties, this contest could have gone either way – but the fact France allowed that situation to arise in the first place cannot be overlooked.

After Pogba’s stunner, Deschamps’ men should have had enough to see it over the line, but slack marking allowed Seferovic to nod in again and then the Manchester United midfielder was caught in possession in the build up to the late equaliser.

It is easy to say with hindsight, but France – with their 3.4 xG from 26 shots to their opponents’ 2.1 xG from 12 – did more than enough to win this. Switzerland just would not go away and now it is they who go through to meet Spain.

Euro 2020 to miss the talents of Pogba

His error late on in normal time aside, Pogba was an absolute joy to watch here. The way he sliced through the Switzerland defence and midfield was exceptional, his four key passes bettered by no one else on the day and he also scored that sumptuous goal. Had France gone on, he certainly would have been in contention for individual honours, but now that looks a pipe dream.

Mbappe’s nightmare

While the Paris Saint-Germain star was lively with four chances created and an assist, it is fair to say Mbappe had a dreadful evening in many ways. Even if you ignore the shoot-out failure, he had six shots but did not manage to get any on target. At least two of them were presentable opportunities as well. He leaves Euro 2020 without a single goal to his name.

Key Opta Facts

– France have failed to reach the quarter-final stage of a major tournament (Euros/World Cup) for the first time since the 2010 World Cup.

– Switzerland have reached the quarter-finals at a major tournament for the first time since the 1954 World Cup, while this was their first ever penalty shoot-out victory in either competition.

– Benzema became only the second player to score two or more goals in consecutive games with France at the European Championship after Michel Platini in 1984 (three goals v Belgium and three goals v Yugoslavia in the group stage).

– Switzerland’s Zuber provided his fourth assist at Euro 2020, no player has ever provided more at a single European Championship tournament (since 1980).

– N’Golo Kante made his 50th appearance for France, with the midfielder ending on the losing side in just four of his 50 games for the national team (W3D11).

What’s next?

Switzerland will face Spain in St Petersburg on Friday for a place in the semi-finals.

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