France went from the brink of defeat to salvation—only for Switzerland to do the same to force extra time and win on penalty kicks in the Euro 2020 round of 16.
On the heels of a Spain-Croatia game that featured a stunning own goal, a late blown two-goal lead and a 5-3 final scoreline, Switzerland may have managed to top it with a colossal upset of Euro 2020 tournament favorite France on penalty kicks.
After scoring all five of its penalty kicks, Switzerland prevailed as goalkeeper Yann Sommer saved a penalty kick from Kylian Mbappé, who failed to score at Euro 2020, to send the Swiss into a manic celebration.
The match became an instant classic in the second half with a series of thrilling momentum shifts. Trailing 1-0 and with Switzerland lining up a penalty kick, France was staring down a round-of-16 exit after coming into the Euros as the consensus choice to add to its trophy case. And then the floodgates opened to at the very least temporarily give Les Bleus the control.
Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris jumped to his right and saved Ricardo Rodriguez’s penalty in the 55th minute, kicking off a a frantic four-minute momentum shift reminiscent of its 2018 round of 16 thriller against Argentina that sent France on its way to a World Cup trophy.
Rather than watching its deficit double, France capitalized on that momentum with an equalizer just two minutes after the penalty miss thanks to a sublime touch from its returning star, Karim Benzema. After being controversially omitted from the French team for Euro 2016 due to a still ongoing blackmail scandal, the Real Madrid star now has four goals in his last two games on Europe’s biggest stage.
In the 57th minute, Benzema corralled a late pass from Mbappé by dragging his foot back to curl the ball around his body before poking it past an onrushing Sommer for the first France goal.
Just two minutes later, France capped a stunning turnaround when Antoine Griezmann served up a chip to the back post, where Benzema stood waiting for the header and the lead. From the penalty-kick miss that could have doubled Switzerland’s lead to Benzema’s second goal that put France ahead, only four minutes and three seconds had passed.
Paul Pogba added a highlight-reel goal with a gorgeous curling effort into the top corner from 25 yards out to give France a 3-1 lead. It was a cushion that the defending world champion would come to appreciate given Haris Seferović’s goal in the 81st minute, his second of the match following his 15th-minute opener.
But Les Bleus would succumb to a momentum shift themselves when Dinamo Zagreb forward Mario Gavranović shocked the French with his goal in the 90th minute to send the game to extra time—but not before Kingsley Coman nearly won it at the death with an audacious volley that hit the bar.
After two scoreless periods of extra time, the first nine penalty takers were flawless, with Gravanović, Fabian Schär, Manuel Akanji, Ruben Vargas and Admir Mehmedi beating Lloris. Meanwhile, Pogba, Olivier Giroud, Marcus Thuram and Presnel Kimpembe scored on Sommer. Mbappé, pegged by plenty to be the star of this tournament and who had missed a golden chance in extra time, wound up delivering France’s last kick—three games earlier than anticipated.
More Euro 2020 Coverage:
- Spain GK Unai Simón Concedes Shocking Own Goal vs. Croatia at Euros
- Wilson: Spain Puts Its Potential, Pitfalls on Display in Thrilling Euro 2020 Win vs. Croatia
- De Bruyne, Hazard ’50-50′ for Belgium to Face Italy in Euro Quarterfinals