Switzerland produced the shock of Euro 2020 as they booked a place in the quarter finals with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory over world champions France in Bucharest.
Vladimir Petkovic’s men came back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 and force extra time before Kylian Mbappe saw his penalty saved by Yann Sommer after the first nine kicks were all scored.
It sees Switzerland reach a major quarter finals for the first time since 1954 and leaves the world champions with plenty to ponder as they came up well short after being tagged as heavy favourites to lift the trophy.
On what proved to be an incredible night of drama, Haris Seferovic opened the scoring for the Swiss on 15 minutes when he rose majestically to guide a firm header into the corner.
France were far from their best and struggled to adapt to a less familiar 3-5-2 system, leaving them with little to show from a first 45 where the Swiss deservedly went in at the break ahead.
Didier Deschamps reverted to a more familiar shape soon after and the game seemed to turn in a crazy four-minute spell.
Hugo Lloris was the initial hero as he saved Ricardo Rodriguez’s penalty to stop the Swiss pulling clear. The reprieve seemed to inspire Didier Deschamps’ men and Benzema levelled with a sensational touch to take Kylian Mbappe’s flick from behind him and then clip home a superb equaliser.
France then stormed in front on 59 minutes when Benzema headed in a rebound after a wonderful link-up between Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann carved the Swiss open once more.
Paul Pogba curled in a stunning third from long range but Switzerland weren’t done.
Seferovic set up a nervy finale when he nodded in his second of the game nine minutes from time before substitute Mario Gavranovic forced extra-time with a brilliant last-gasp shot into the bottom corner.
The French had chances to win it but could not find the finish and Mbappe was the only one to blink in the shoot out to cap a tournament he will want to forget in a hurry.
Switzerland will now meet Spain in the last eight on Friday evening.
Kylian Mbappe of France looks dejected after taking the decisive penalty that was saved by Yann Sommer (Not pictured) of Switzerland following the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Round of 16 match between France and Switzerland
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - A wonderful spectacle topped by a HUGE shock
Few would have expected France and Switzerland to serve up a similar feast of drama to that of Spain’s eight-goal thriller with Croatia, but it certainly gave it a run for its money and the outcome possibly tops it.
This was a real rollercoaster and had the plot twists that can make tournament football at the knockout stage such a brilliant spectacle when attack prevails over defence.
Switzerland deserve huge praise for the way they went about it with their tried and trusted system. They clearly felt they could expose France’s weaknesses and even after the blow of missing a penalty in normal time and being blown away by a spell of mesmerising football, they kept their belief and somehow hit back from two down.
This is a historic moment for Swiss football and sees them finally push into the latter stages following many years of falling early on.
In contrast, France will face a fierce backlash from their media. Many felt Deschamps was too pragmatic in his approach with such a wealth of quality and flair at his disposal. The change of system ahead of this due to injury issues in defence raised a few eyebrows and they were caught out for long periods of this game. Only a surge of brilliance midway through the second half upset Switzerland’s game-plan, but they managed to wrestle it back on track and in the end France probably got what they deserved.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Granit Xhaka (Switzerland)
The Arsenal midfielder produced an outstanding display at the heart of the midfield. It was the type of display that will have Gunners fans scratching their heads. He stood up to France’s magnificent midfield and at times was running the show.
15’ - GOAL! – France 0-1 Switzerland. Seferovic rises above his marker and guides a lovely header beyond Lloris and into the corner from a wonderful left-wing cross from Zuber.
55’ – SWITZERLAND PENALTY SAVED! Lloris dives to his right and keeps out Rodriguez's low spot kick. The kick was given when Pavard slid in and took down Zuber on the left. The referee wasn't interested at first but VAR checked, he consulted the monitor and then gave it.
57’ - GOAL! – France 1-1 Switzerland. All square! Benzema produces a quite ridiculous touch to somehow take Mbappe's flick from behind him and clip a lovely finish beyond Sommer.
59’ - GOAL! – France 2-1 Switzerland. What a turnaround! It's Benzema at the double. Griezmann plays a one-two with Mbappe and sees his dinked shot saved, but the ball reaches Benzema at the far post and he nods in from close range.
75’ - GOAL! – France 3-1 Switzerland. Pogba curls a sensational 30-yard effort into the top corner. Quite brilliant.
81’ - GOAL! – France 3-2 Switzerland. Seferovic gives the Swiss hope with a thumping header from Mbabu's cross.
90’ - GOAL! – France 3-3 Switzerland. Gavranovic takes a pass from Xhaka on the run, side steps a challenge and fires a low shot into the bottom corner. Incredible.
SHOOT-OUT: PENALTY SAVED! - SWITZERLAND 5-4 FRANCE. Mbappe sees his kick saved by Sommer after the first nine were all scored! SWITZERLAND ARE THROUGH TO THE QUARTER FINALS!!!
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.
For the first time in 67 years (World Cup 1954), Switzerland have reached the quarter final of a major tournament.
France have been eliminated in their last three games in which they played extra time in major tournaments (EURO + World Cup), as many as in their first 11.