After two engrossing games on Friday, we have our first Euro 2020 semi-finalists.

Spain ended a nine-year wait for a place in the final four of a major tournament, but they had to do it the hard way once again, with penalties needed to defeat Switzerland after a draw in Saint Petersburg.

Then came arguably the finest match of the tournament to date, Italy prevailing against Belgium to set a new record for consecutive wins in this competition and continue their remarkable form under Roberto Mancini.

Here are some of the key data takeaways from day one of the quarter-finals...

 

Switzerland 1-1 Spain (aet, 1-3 pens): Luis Enrique's men are the Euros shoot-out kings

Switzerland's previous three European Championship knockout games had gone to penalties (against Poland in 2016 and France this year), so perhaps we should have expected another shoot-out here.

Things certainly looked to be under Spain's control when Denis Zakaria, in for the suspended Granit Xhaka, scored the 10th own goal of Euro 2020 – that's more than were seen in the previous 15 championships combined (nine). Three of those have now gone in Spain's favour: they got two against Slovakia in the group stage.

Xherdan Shaqiri steered in Remo Freuler's pass to become his country's leading Euros goalscorer with four – he has as many goals (three) in his most recent three games as he did in his previous 31 – as Switzerland responded well in the second half. Then came a crucial moment: a heavy challenge from Freuler, and a red card flashed his way. It made the Atalanta midfielder the sixth person to be sent off at these finals and Switzerland only the third side in the competition's history to score an own goal and have a player dismissed in the same game, after Poland (against Slovakia this year) and Czechoslovakia against the Netherlands in 1976.

Still, Switzerland stood firm. Yann Sommer produced 10 saves, the most by a goalkeeper in a knockout match who did not suffer defeat during normal or extra time since Ivo Viktor for Czechoslovakia, again in 1976. Spain fired in 28 shots in total, with substitutes Dani Olmo and Gerard Moreno attempting six each. They have struck the most shots of anyone at these finals without scoring (Olmo 16, Gerard 15).

Yet Sommer's heroics were not enough in the shoot-out, Ruben Vargas' miss allowing Mikel Oyarzabal to ensure Spain progressed from penalties in a Euros match for the fourth time, more than any other nation. One of those came against Italy in 2008, and another against Portugal in 2012 – each time, La Roja went on to lift the trophy...


 

Belgium 1-2 Italy: Azzurri clinch Euros record against favourite foes

Italy stretched their record unbeaten run to 32 matches and 13 consecutive victories to see off Belgium and reach the semi-finals of a major tournament for the 12th time, a tally only bettered among European sides by Germany (20).

Perhaps more impressively, Italy have now won each of their past 15 games at the Euros (including qualifying), which is a competition record. Had Belgium claimed victory, they would have reached that tally themselves.

Roberto Martinez's side might be the top-ranked in the world, but they have now faced the Azzurri five times at the Euros and World Cup without winning, more than they have against any other side. They may have feared this result was coming.

Nicolo Barella opened the scoring with his sixth goal in 27 international games – only one fewer than he has managed in his past 116 club matches – before Lorenzo Insigne swept home a quite stunning second. Romelu Lukaku got a goal back after the impressive Jeremy Doku had become the first teenager to win a Euros spot-kick since Wayne Rooney in 2004.

Lukaku had a couple of chances for another in the second half, but he could not quite muster what would have been a 23rd goal in his most recent 19 competitive internationals, as Roberto Mancini celebrated becoming just the second coach in Euros history to win each of his first five games in the finals after Michel Hidalgo in 1984.

Italy's resolute defending in the second half was built on the partnership of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, whose guile helped the Azzurri over the line. This was something of a showcase for experienced stoppers: the five starting centre-backs – Chiellini (36), Bonucci (34), Thomas Vermaelen (35), Jan Vertonghen (34) and Toby Alderweireld (32) – averaged an age of 34 years and 234 days.

 

Luis Enrique said it was a good thing Gerard Moreno missed a string of chances in Spain's victory against Switzerland rather than Alvaro Morata following the recent criticism aimed at the Juventus striker.

Three-time European champions Spain booked their place in the semi-finals of Euro 2020 on Friday with a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over 10-man Switzerland.

La Roja, who needed extra time to overcome Croatia in the last 16, were pegged back by a Xherdan Shaqiri strike in St Petersburg after Denis Zakaria's own goal had put them in front.

Even after Remo Freuler's dismissal with 77 minutes played, Luis Enrique's men could not find a way through due to a mixture of profligacy and a number of Yann Sommer saves – a tournament-high 10 in total.

Gerard replaced Morata and endured a tough time of it, the Villarreal striker missing a number of good opportunities to win the tie for Spain before penalties were required.

He managed six shots, half of those on target, while his expected goals (xG) return of 3.3 for the tournament so far is the highest of any player yet to score at Euro 2020.

Morata revealed last week he and his family had been subjected to abuse by Spain fans, and Luis Enrique is glad the striker was not the recipient of any more criticism on Friday.

"Luckily it was Gerard Moreno who failed to take the chances. If Morata misses them, you impale him," the Spain head coach said after the quarter-final win.

"It's quite evident what Morata has experienced and what Gerard has experienced. They are both my players and I love them very much."

 

Spain are the sixth team to progress from two separate knockout games of a single European Championship tournament that went to extra time or beyond, all five previous sides going on to lift the trophy.

They were on the back foot when Sergio Busquets missed the first spot-kick, but Fabian Schar, Manuel Akanji and Ruben Vargas all failed to find the net for Switzerland.

Asked if he felt nervous watching the shoot-out, Luis Enrique said: "It was a tranquil moment for me because we'd already worked on everything. Nothing else could be done.

"Win or lose on penalties, the team would have done excellently for my judgement. For how they've handled this, how they've played, how they've represented Spain.

"We are so proud. It'd be ridiculous to think that we, or any of the semi-finalists, would settle for just getting that far now – all of us want to get to the final and win.

"I've said from the outset that we are one of the seven or eight teams which, no exaggeration, could win this trophy – now we're one of four."

Switzerland knocked out competition favourites France on penalties in the last round following an incredible 3-3 draw, but they ultimately could not do likewise against Spain.

It is the fourth time the Swiss have been eliminated from a major tournament at the last-eight stage, with each of those previous occasions coming in the World Cup.

"I have mixed feelings," said head coach Vladimir Petkovic after the game. "I have pride – we can all be so proud. We leave here with our heads held high. 

"On the other hand, we were so close to the semi-final, and that doesn't happen often. I have more positive than negative feelings.

"Congratulations to Spain. They tried everything and in the end won on penalties. I am very proud of my team, and all the players.

"My players were the heroes of the night. We would have deserved to go to the semi-final."

After nine years, Spain are back in the semi-finals of a major tournament – and, boy, has it felt like hard work.

A group-stage slog, an extra-time thriller with Croatia and then this, a match against Switzerland that seemed under their control but still required 120 minutes of football and a penalty shoot-out to decide.

Yet here they are: exhausted, written off, but in with a shot of a third European Championship final out of the past four. The passing might not be as slick, the control not as imperious as it once was, but one thing Euro 2020 has given these players is belief. After this latest challenge posed by the Russian summer and the Swiss Sommer, it will only be stronger.

It seemed Spain had found the ideal antidote to any lingering fatigue from the last 16 once Jordi Alba's volley took a hearty deflection off the studs off Denis Zakaria and flew into the net, a stroke of misfortune for Granit Xhaka's replacement in midfield that meant Euro 2020 has seen more own goals (10) as the 15 previous editions combined (nine).

It also left Switzerland with a daunting task. Trailing 1-0 after eight minutes is not a great outlook against any team, but especially one that came into the quarter-finals with the highest average possession (73.4 per cent) and the joint-lowest number of shots faced (24). Getting the ball back is hard enough; getting a shot away is damnably difficult.

 

Yet Switzerland did. They ended the 90 minutes having managed eight attempts on Unai Simon's goal, as many as Croatia managed in that chaotic 5-3 defeat in the previous round. Two of those were on target, the same number as Spain managed; one ended up in the net, via the composed right foot of Xherdan Shaqiri. The Liverpool man has 51 direct goal involvements in 96 Switzerland matches, the team's hopes in major finals still carried on those spectacular shoulders.

If Vladimir Petkovic's side did not really deserve to be trailing on the scoresheet, they certainly didn't merit being a man down on the pitch. After 77 minutes, they were, Remo Freuler issued a straight red by Michael Oliver for a strong challenge on Gerard Moreno – strong, but not obviously reckless, or out of control, and one in which he cleanly won the ball. But red was the colour it remained, meaning the Atalanta midfielder became the first player at the Euros to assist a goal and be sent off in the same game since Nuno Gomes for Portugal 21 years ago.

It also meant, in extra time, Spain suddenly cut loose. They attempted 11 shots in the first period, one more than they managed in the whole of the first 90 minutes. Gerard Moreno smashed wide from five yards; Yann Sommer flew around the Switzerland goal as though his life depended on it. When it looked as though Gerard might finally best him, Ricardo Rodriguez hurled himself in the way, the block inspiring louder cheers from the Saint Petersburg crowd than perhaps any other moment.

It looked as though Sommer's save from Rodrigo in the shoot-out might have swung things Switzerland's way after Sergio Busquets had hit the post, but two Simon stops and Ruben Vargas' effort that flew into the stand gave Mikel Oyarzabal the chance to send Spain through. This time, the finish was clinical.

So Luis Enrique's men marched, or rather hobbled, into the semi-finals of the Euros for the first time since winning in 2012. Unfancied before the finals, uninspiring at the start of them, they are still here, still passing and, more than ever, still believing. Tougher footballing tests await but, physically and mentally, they have already gone through the wringer. You won't scare them now.

Spain will contest their first major tournament semi-final since 2012 despite failing to beat 10-man Switzerland after extra-time, with La Roja finally getting the job done on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Luis Enrique's men were dominant throughout and even had a man advantage throughout extra-time, and although their finishing left a lot to be desired, they proved more clinical from 12 yards than the Swiss.

It was a Switzerland player who provided the decisive touch to put Spain one up as Denis Zakaria scored an early own goal, but they capitalised on a defensive error to level through Xherdan Shaqiri in the second period.

Spain could not take advantage of Remo Freuler's contentious sending off, with Yann Sommer starring between the posts for Switzerland, but even he could not make up for his team's profligacy from the spot as Mikel Oyarzabal converted the winning kick.

Switzerland's remarkable run to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 has captivated fans at the grounds and at home.

Still, there is only one member of Vladimir Petkovic's squad who consistently has his own song belted out in stands and living rooms.

Striker Breel Embolo epitomises the 'golden generation' of Swiss players to have emerged in the last decade: talented, spirited, and with a story to tell. He is captivating as a player and person, so much so that his name is sung with gusto at every international match to the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight. "Oh Embolo, oh Embolo..."

There's no denying his popularity, but where Embolo has so far fallen short is in matching early expectations. He made his Basel debut in March 2014 and scored minutes after coming on as a substitute in his first Swiss Super League match. Links with clubs including Manchester United began to emerge as he earned a spot as the youngest Swiss player at Euro 2016 – a squad packed with talent, despite being sourced from a country roughly half the size of French Guiana with a population of around a million fewer people than Hungary.

A big move to the Bundesliga with Schalke followed, but serious injuries held him back in Gelsenkirchen as he missed the best part of 21 months of action. Matters improved after a switch to Borussia Monchengladbach in 2019, although his progress has been disrupted by some off-field indiscretions including a six-figure fine and one-game ban after he was accused by police of fleeing over rooftops after a raid on an illegal party in January this year (Embolo denied he attended the party).

His ability, though, has never been in question, even as other Switzerland players have attained greater continental acclaim. As Urs Fischer, Basel head coach in 2015, said: "I've coached Josip Drmic and Admir Mehmedi, and with Ricardo Rodriguez you could already see in the Under-15s that he was going to have a huge career.

"Ricci also had this carefreeness and calmness, only with Breel it seems to me that it's all a step higher. And he did it in a way where I have to say: very strong!"

'Strong' is certainly the word to describe his performances at Euro 2020.

 

Embolo scored his first tournament goal for Switzerland in their opening draw with Wales, a game Robert Page's men would likely admit was one they should have lost. Embolo should really have been the match-winner: he attempted at least twice as many shots (six) as anyone else in the contest, goalkeeper Danny Ward denied him another two goals, and a VAR review intervened after he set up what looked to have been the decisive third goal.

Switzerland have since scored six more goals, three against Turkey and three in that amazing last-16 tie with France, and Embolo has neither scored nor assisted any of them. And yet, his attacking influence cannot be dismissed. After all, this is a player who scored five times in 31 Bundesliga games last season, who has averaged a goal every 243 minutes in 107 games for Schalke and Gladbach in Germany's top flight, but was summed up as follows by former Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel: "He's a player who runs enough up front for three. That means we don't expect a goal a game from him."

Prior to the quarter-finals, only two players – Kylian Mbappe (25) and Joakim Maehle (23) – had attempted more dribbles than Embolo (21) at Euro 2020. Seven of those take-ons were in the opposition box, the most of anyone at the tournament. He has had 30 touches of the ball in the opponents' box in four games, a figure bettered only by Alvaro Morata (32) and Mbappe (35). That sort of dynamism on the ball has proved key for a side who have averaged 52 per cent of the ball in their matches, the 11th-highest figure of all 24 teams.

 

What we have also seen is a supreme contribution off the ball, one that perhaps is at odds with a player sometimes seen showing more spirited antics off the pitch than on it. His combined total of 41 duels won and recoveries at Euro 2020 was the highest tally among forward players over the first four rounds of fixtures. It is precisely that mixture of hard work and direct running that could be critical to their chances against Spain, who are expected to dominate possession and persist with a high defensive line.

This tournament has looked like being a watershed moment for Embolo: a showcase not just of his ability, but his commitment to the cause and, at just 24, his leadership. Keep that going against Spain, and it will really be worth singing about.

Luis Enrique pledged there will be no complacency from his Spain side as La Roja prepare to take on Switzerland in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.

While Spain needed extra-time to see off a resurgent Croatia 5-3 in the last 16, Switzerland stunned world champions France 5-4 on penalties after a dramatic 3-3 draw in Bucharest.

Both of those ties took place on Monday, albeit Switzerland's game edged into Tuesday local time, and the teams now face a quick turnaround for Friday's contest in Saint Petersburg.

This is the first meeting between Switzerland and Spain at the European Championship.

Their three previous meetings in a major tournament came in the 1966, 1994 and 2010 World Cups, with La Roja winning the first two and Switzerland triumphing last time out – albeit Spain went on to win the trophy despite that group-stage defeat.

However, that defeat in South Africa is Spain's only loss to Switzerland in 22 meetings in all competitions.

The teams met in October and November last year, in the Nations League group stage, with Spain winning 1-0 at home before drawing 1-1 on the road, and Luis Enrique is under no illusions as to the scale of test his team will have to pass if they are to face either Belgium or Italy in the last four.

"The reality is Switzerland have got through and nothing else matters," Spain's head coach told a news conference.

"The good thing for us is that both teams know each other very well. We competed recently in the Nations League.

"They're going to be a very tough team to face and I think for the spectator there might not be some big names, but they're a great group of players.

"They're a match for us in terms of the way they press, the way they attack, so it's going to be very difficult for us."

Spain are the first team in European Championship history to score five or more goals in consecutive games, having defeated Slovakia 5-0 in their final group match before edging Croatia in a thriller.

They had not scored more than four goals in any of their first 42 matches in the competition, though Switzerland have netted three times in each of their last two games, having never scored more than twice in any of their first 15 matches at the Euros.

"We need to be hungry again, greedy, to make it to the next round," Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic, who will be shorn of the suspended Granit Xhaka, told reporters.

"From this point on I can't say I'm satisfied and happy that we made it so far because, for me, the next step is always the most important.

"We want to succeed, make it to the next round. We know that we have to play against one of the strongest teams, Spain, one of the favourites, but we will try to take our chance and make it to the next round."

Luis Enrique's free-scoring Spain will look to avoid the same fate as France when they take on European Championship quarter-final debutants Switzerland.

Switzerland pulled off one of the tournament's all-time greatest shocks by eliminating competition favourites France on penalties in the last 16 after a thrilling 3-3 draw.

La Roja were also involved in a game that saw six goals inside an eventful 90 minutes, before going on to beat Croatia 5-3 in extra time in another Euros classic.

In doing so, Spain became the first side in European Championship history to score five or more goals in successive games, having seen off Slovakia 5-0 in their final group match.

Ahead of Friday's showdown with Switzerland, Luis Enrique has vowed to stick to an attacking style of play.

"I'm ready for games like the one against Croatia if we have another – but I'm not sure if my family or the fans feel the same," he said.

"We won't play long ball, defensive football even if playing the way we do brings wild matches. We only defend by trying to own the ball and play."

Switzerland have reached the last eight of the World Cup on three occasions, but this is the furthest they have ever made it at a European Championship.

They have never previously made it to the semi-finals of a tournament but, buoyed by their famous triumph against France, Vladimir Petkovic's players have a chance to change that.

"The game against France was almost too emotional. All my players gave 120 per cent," said Petkovic, who will be without suspended skipper Granit Xhaka.

"It was probably one of my team's best games ever. We will now need a similar performance against Spain in the quarter-finals."

Spain have lost just one of their 22 meetings with Switzerland in all competitions (W16 D5), with that solitary defeat coming in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

 


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Switzerland - Haris Seferovic

Benfica striker Seferovic scored just one goal in his first 13 major tournament appearances for Switzerland, but he has now netted three in his last two appearances at Euro 2020.

That includes a couple of well-taken goals in the win against France, and he is now out to become the second Swiss player – after Josef Hugi at the 1954 World Cup – to score in three successive appearances in a single tournament.

Spain - Ferran Torres

Manchester City attacker Torres was recalled to Spain's starting line-up for the Croatia match after scoring from the bench in the resounding win against Slovakia.

He made the most of his opportunity with another goal and an assist in the last 16, making it eight goal involvements – seven goals and one assist – in his last nine international appearances.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- This is the first clash between Switzerland and Spain at the Euros. Their three previous meetings in a major tournament came in the 1966, 1994 and 2010 World Cups, with Spain winning the first two and Switzerland triumphing last time out.

- Spain have scored five-plus goals in consecutive European Championship games. They had not scored more than four goals in any of their first 42 matches in the competition.

- Switzerland have scored three times in each of their past two Euros matches, having never scored more than twice in any of their first 15 in the competition. They previously scored three-plus goals in three straight matches in all competitions in October 2017.

- Having scored with just 8.5 per cent of their shots in the group stages (4/47), Switzerland converted 25 per cent of their attempts in the last-16 meeting with France (3/12).

- Spain are averaging 73.4 per cent possession and have a passing accuracy of 89.5 per cent at Euro 2020 so far. Both figures are their highest on record in a single European Championship (since 1980).

Pele told Kylian Mbappe to "keep your head up" after the France striker missed the shoot-out penalty that condemned Les Bleus to an early exit from Euro 2020.

As Switzerland celebrated a stunning win in Bucharest, prevailing on spot-kicks after a breathtaking 3-3 draw in the round of 16, Brazil great Pele had sympathy for misfiring Mbappe, who endured a miserable tournament.

Although Mbappe has established himself among the best strikers in the world with Paris Saint-Germain, he failed to find the back of the net in four games at these European finals.

The 22-year-old seemed fated to flounder from the spot once the game went to penalties, and that was how it proved, Mbappe stepping up with France trailing 5-4 and seeing his strike saved by Yann Sommer.

"Keep your head up, Kylian!" Pele wrote on Twitter. "Tomorrow is the first day of a new journey, @KMbappe"

Mbappe said in a late-night Instagram post that it would be "hard to sleep but sadly these are the risks of this sport that I love so much".

He failed to score in the tournament despite taking 14 shots. At the point of France's tournament exit, only Cristiano Ronaldo (five goals from 15 shots) and Alvaro Morata (two goals from 15 shots) had taken more goal attempts in the Euros.

A World Cup winner with France as a 19-year-old, this time Mbappe experienced the bitter disappointment of tournament football.

 

As France licked their wounds, Switzerland began to look forward to a quarter-final against Spain in St Petersburg on Friday.

Switzerland head coach Vladimir Petkovic said his team's win was "very pleasing and very significant".

"I wasn't able to speak and talk towards the end of the match. I was done, I'd lost my voice," Petkovic told a news conference.

"But the team over the 120 minutes did a fantastic job with this readiness to fight for the team and we managed to impose our game and follow our match plan.

"We had enough fuel in the tank, maybe more than France, and we showed that over the 120 minutes."

Petkovic suggested he had probably sweated out "a couple of litres" during the game.

He said: "After such a great success you're happy and satisfied – this was the icing on the cake, a penalty shoot-out, and it was the only penalty Yann saved and I was happy for the team but I needed a lot of emotions over the 120 minutes and such a victory helps us mentally and also in terms of recognition.

"This team showed the willingness and has the power to go even further."

France led 3-1 when Paul Pogba hit a stunning 25-yard strike in the 75th minute, after an earlier Karim Benzema double, but Haris Seferovic's second goal of the game was followed by a late leveller by Mario Gavranovic.

"For normal people and players it's impossible to turn it around again, but we were a super class team," Petkovic said.

"With such a performance and commitment you can't be not satisfied, but now we've reached a new level and I will ask my team to do the same again and again."

Kylian Mbappe apologised for his failed penalty as France crashed out of Euro 2020 at the hands of Switzerland, with the star insisting he has sleepless nights ahead.

Mbappe had his spot-kick saved by Yann Sommer, whose heroics lifted Switzerland to a shock 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory against world champions France in the last 16 on Monday.

France had rallied to a 3-1 lead with 15 minutes of regulation time remaining after falling behind early to Switzerland in Bucharest, where Les Bleus used Karim Benzema's quick-fire brace and Paul Pogba's stunner to turn the match on its head.

Switzerland, who saw Ricardo Rodriguez's penalty saved for a chance to move 2-0 clear early in the second half, sensationally forced extra time thanks to Haris Seferovic's second goal and Mario Gavranovic's last-gasp strike.

Mbappe was involved in the decisive moment, his penalty kept out by Sommer as France failed to reach the quarter-final stage of a major tournament (European Champion and World Cup) for the first time since the 2010 World Cup.

"Very difficult to turn the page," Mbappe – who has had more shots (14) without scoring than any other player at Euro 2020 – said in a post shared on Instagram. "The sadness is immense after this elimination, we were not able to achieve our objective.

"I am sorry for this penalty. I wanted to help the team but I failed. It will be hard to sleep but sadly these are the risks of this sport that I love so much.

"I know that you the fans are disappointed, but I would still like to thank you for your support and for having always believed in us.

"The most important thing will be to get up even stronger for the challenges to come. Congratulations and good luck to Switzerland."

Didier Deschamps' France have been eliminated in their last three games in which they played extra time in major tournaments (Euros and World Cup), as many as in their first 11.

France captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris told beIN SPORTS: "We win together, we lose together. We are all responsible for being eliminated at this stage of the competition.

"There is no pointing fingers. We had to deal with injuries, but we have no right to make excuses. This is a competition.

"We gave everything, we left it all out on the pitch. Penalties are a lottery. We did not have the luck.

"We will now need to manage the pain. At 3-1 we should have been able to close the match out. But this is football, this is why we love it, this is why it hurts. Tonight hurts a lot."

Granit Xhaka could not contain his joy after Switzerland sensationally eliminated world champions France in the last 16 at Euro 2020, describing the triumph as "f****** amazing".

Switzerland completed a remarkable comeback in a penalty shoot-out following Monday's dramatic 3-3 draw in Bucharest, where Yann Sommer emerged the hero after saving Kylian Mbappe's spot-kick.

Having opened the scoring and seen Ricardo Rodriguez's penalty saved by Hugo Lloris early in the second half, Switzerland found themselves 3-1 behind with 15 minutes of regulation time remaining.

But Haris Seferovic netted his second of the game in the 81st minute before Mario Gavranovic's last-gasp strike forced extra-time after cancelling out Karim Benzema's brace and Paul Pogba's stunner.

Sommer then stepped up with the decisive save in the shoot-out after extra time to send Switzerland through to the quarter-finals at a major tournament for the first time since the 1954 World Cup.

"It is f****** amazing man," Switzerland captain and man of the match Xhaka – who refused to rule out a move to Jose Mourinho's Roma from Arsenal – told beIN SPORTS.

"We lose two goals and then we go up. Then the penalty we missed broke us a bit. We showed a beautiful character. It's a hell of a team.

"We showed a lot of character, I don't even know what to say. In 10 minutes, we go back to 3-3. The last 30 minutes we were better, we wanted to finish and win before the penalty shoot-out. In the end, we are qualified. We are writing the history of our national team."

It was the first time in Switzerland's history that they had won a penalty shoot-out at a European Championship or World Cup, thanks to Sommer's save.

As Switzerland look ahead to Friday's showdown with Spain in St Petersburg, Sommer told EURO2020.com: "What a match! What an evening of football.

"It was our chance to finally go through the round of 16, because we never made it before. It's incredible, we played with heart and with character. It’s amazing.

"It was a really difficult situation for us after the penalty miss. I'm really proud of the team, how they came back. We always believed. Even before the game we said no matter what happens in the game, it doesn't matter if we're down, or if things are going well; we play until the end, we never give up.

"It's always 'anything is possible'. We believe. We said before the game that we are a small country, but we have a lot of quality and a lot of experience and we showed it tonight."

France head coach Didier Deschamps dismissed questions about his future after the world champions surprisingly crashed out of Euro 2020 at the hands of Switzerland in the last 16.

Deschamps' France lost 5-4 on penalties to Switzerland after Kylian Mbappe's spot-kick was saved by Yann Sommer, squandering a 3-1 lead with 15 minutes of regulation time remaining in Bucharest on Monday.

France failed to reach the quarter-final stage of a major tournament (European Champion and World Cup) for the first time since the 2010 World Cup following the shoot-out against Switzerland after the dramatic 3-3 draw at the end of extra time.

Deschamps is contracted until 2022 and has been in charge of Les Bleus since 2012, lifting the World Cup in 2018 and finishing European Championship runners-up in 2016.

France's premature Euro 2020 exit led to questions about the former France international's future as national team boss amid links with former Real Madrid boss and countryman Zinedine Zidane.

"That is not the question," Deschamps told beIN SPORTS after the defeat. "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 to time to manage this, it hurts tonight."

France superstar Mbappe had his spot-kick saved in the decisive shoot-out moment by Sommer as Switzerland reached the quarter-finals of a major tournament for the first time since the 1954 World Cup.

Paris Saint-Germain's Mbappe had more shots (14) without scoring than any other player at Euro 2020.

Deschamps refused to blame Mbappe, adding: "Nobody can be annoyed with him.

"When you take the responsibility, it can happen. He is obviously very affected by it."

Deschamps said France showed weakness by allowing Switzerland's two late goals which forced extra-time.

France had fought back from a first-half deficit after Haris Seferovic's 15th-minute opener, with three second-half goals in 18 minutes, initially a Karim Benzema double before Paul Pogba's stunning strike.

Switzerland pulled a goal back with Seferovic's close-range header before Mario Gavranovic found space to level in the 90th minute to force extra time.

France have been eliminated in their last three games in which they played extra time in major tournaments (Euros and World Cup), as many as in their first 11.

"It is always complicated to explain," Deschamps said. "We failed with our first half, we did what was needed to turn it around in the second half.

"Usually our strength is being solid, we showed weakness that allowed Switzerland back in. This is hard, it hurts, we did everything we could for this to end differently. That's football.

"This tournament ends for us today. There is no magic formula."

June 28, 2021 – it has been a 'remember where you were' kind of day at the European Championship, with the round of 16 treating us to two absolute classics.

After seeing Spain emerge as winners over Croatia in an eight-goal match, many of us were probably settling down to watch France expecting a rather duller affair given their approach in the group stage.

What we got was the complete opposite, as Switzerland pulled off what will probably be the biggest shock of the tournament regardless of what happens from this point on.

With 14 goals between the two matches, only June 23, 2021 has seen more scored on a single day in Euros history but that came from a pool of four matches.

Furthermore, this was the first day at a European Championship or World Cup with two games featuring at least six goals each since June 15, 1982.

At the end of a truly remarkable day, Stats Perform looks at the key Opta stats from two engrossing matches.

Croatia 3-5 Spain (after extra time): Calamitous own goal sets tone for chaotic classic

Given how wasteful Spain have been at times in Euro 2020, it's a remarkable achievement that they have managed to become the first side in European Championship history to score five goals in successive games.

But rarely did they have things their own way, shooting themselves in the foot with Pedri scoring the longest-range own goal in Euros history at 49 yards as Unai Simon saw his pass bobble over his foot.

Incredibly, it was the ninth own goal at Euro 2020, as many as in the previous 15 editions of the tournament combined.

Pablo Sarabia equalised before the break, with Cesar Azpilicueta – now Spain's oldest-ever Euros scorer (31 years, 304 days) – and Ferran Torres putting them 3-1 up in the second period. They were cruising.

Or, they were until the last five minutes of normal time when Mislav Orsic and Mario Pasalic both scored, incredibly forcing extra-time.

But back came La Roja. Alvaro Morata silenced his army of critics with his fifth career goal at the Euros, levelling the Spanish record held by Fernando Torres, and then Mikel Oyarzabal made sure of the victory.

France 3-3 Switzerland (aet, 4-5 on penalties): Mbappe endures nightmare as Swiss refuse to roll over

While it was always going to be tricky for France to go all the way given their tough group and the fact they were on the trickier (in theory) side of the draw, anyone who says they predicted Les Bleus being eliminated by Switzerland is a liar.

Yet here we are, and the Swiss are into the quarter-finals. And, to be fair, they might have booked their place earlier had Hugo Lloris not become the first French goalkeeper to save a penalty at a major tournament (excluding shoot-outs) since 2004 when Switzerland were already 1-0 up.

Within four minutes and three seconds of that save, France were 2-1 up – Karim Benzema making himself only the second Frenchman to score two or more goals in successive games at the Euros since Michel Platini's back-to-back hat-tricks at Euro 84.

Paul Pogba then got what should have been the clincher 15 minutes from time with a scorching finish, his fourth in five goals for France to come from outside the box.

But Haris Seferovic got his second of the game to take his tally to three goals in two games after only previously managing one in 13 major tournament appearances, and Mario Gavranovic's dramatic effort secured extra time.

It was in the extra 30 minutes when Mbappe was particularly wasteful, missing one especially good chance, and what followed in the shoot-out ultimately made sense in that context.

After the first nine kicks were converted, Mbappe – who has had more shots (14) without scoring than any other player at Euro 2020 – saw his effort saved by Yann Sommer.

It means Switzerland will contest a quarter-final for the first time since 1954, while France failed to get to that stage for the first time since 2010.

 

Didier Deschamps has frequently faced accusations that he makes his world champions France unpalatably dull considering the enviable attacking talent at his disposal.

Maybe boredom trumps humiliation.

You could call sending his players out to take on Switzerland in an unfamiliar 3-4-3 formation plenty of things, given very few of them appeared to have the foggiest idea what they were supposed to be doing. But it certainly wasn't dull.

By half-time in a Euro 2020 last-16 tie that looked a formality on paper, France were 1-0 down and had not managed a shot on target.

Even allowing for the disorganisation, uncertainty and flailing team-mates playing out of position behind them, this spoke poorly of the dream Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann forward line. 

A magic triangle to rival the celebrated magic square, or carre magique, of Michel Platini, Jean Tigana, Luis Fernandez and Alan Giresse that inspired France to European Championship glory in 1984 appeared to have few tricks up their sleeve. For one of them, their night in Bucharest would get far, far worse.

Haris Seferovic's dominant header made mincemeat of Clement Lenglet and France's dubious defensive positioning in general, but the manner in which Benzema, Mbappe and Griezmann were caught watching events unfold – not attempting to get back goal side before the ball was worked out to Steven Zuber for his fourth assist of the tournament – reflected some combination of disorganisation and disinterest.

 

"It was a disaster, this first-half," Deschamps former international team-mate Patrick Vieira told ITV at the interval.  "We can talk about the organisation, the new system, but there is a positive attitude to have."

The system was ripe for the bin, regardless, and Kingsley Coman came on for the embattled Lenglet. Benjamin Pavard celebrated being back in his more familiar right-back position by clattering into Zuber and conceding a penalty.

Handily for Deschamps, his captain Hugo Lloris is rarely anything other than entertaining. A raking pass to set up Griezmann's goal against Hungary was followed by him punching Danilo Pereira in the head to give up a spot-kick in the 2-2 draw against Portugal.

Lloris got a fleeting look at a pair of Cristiano Ronaldo penalties in that game, but Ricardo Rodriguez's left-footed strike from 12 yards lacked the power or disguise necessary to outfox Tottenham's number one. It was the sort of moment that can haunt a career.

Then the magic happened. Griezmann found Mbappe, whose pass was under hit and behind Benzema. The Real Madrid striker brilliantly brought it under his spell with a Bergkamp-esque piece of skill and finished emphatically.

The trio who cowered towards the left channel ineffectively before half-time had burst into life. Griezmann completed a give-and-go with Mbappe and chipped to the back post for Benzema to nod in. Four minutes and two seconds after Rodriguez's penalty was saved, France led 2-1.

 

It was easy to ask why Deschamps doesn't take the handbrake off more often when Paul Pogba's stunning 25-yard strike brought the house down. Well, we had our answer when the roof fell in on France.

Seferovic found some more vintage centre-forward play to head his second before Pogba was ransacked in midfield and Granit Xhaka's majestic pass located a touch and finish to match from substitute Mario Gavranovic.

Spain 5-3 Croatia the game of the day with unmatchable drama? Hold my Beaujolais!

Coman hit the crossbar in injury time and Pavard was superbly denied by Yann Sommer in extra time as Mbappe's radar remained curiously off.

He slashed dreadfully into the side-netting after injury had denied Benzema the chance of a hat-trick. Coman crafted that chance but limped off immediately after, continuing the sense of an improbable unravelling. Griezmann was already on the sidelines, having been sacrificed to protect the result in normal time.

Despite weary legs and minds, nine immaculate penalties followed, meaning it fell to Mbappe after 14 shots and no goals in the tournament. The one remaining star forward was asked to save his side, facing the sort of moment to haunt a career.

 

Never before can this superman footballer have felt so hopelessly human in his stellar young career. Sommer sensed his moment, sprung to his right and clawed away France's claims on sporting immortality.

Back-to-back World Cups would secure such a status and expect Mbappe to be more like himself again by Qatar 2022. One-and-a-half years of pandemic football has sapped everyone.

Deschamps' contract will also keep him in place until then and the stew of confusion and chaos served up in Bucharest is likely to prompt further caution. Despite leading his players to the top of the mountain three years ago, it somehow feels like he's selling them short.    

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.

 

France captain Hugo Lloris believes the outcome of the Euro 2020 last-16 clash with Switzerland will hinge on the match-day attitude of Les Bleus.

The title favourites have yet to truly hit their stride, narrowly beating Germany but drawing with Portugal and Hungary in the group stage.

They topped Group F but left room for improvement, and will look to show in Monday's clash with the Swiss in Bucharest that their pedigree has not been overstated.

Lloris said in a news conference on Sunday: "We've turned the page from the group stage which demanded a lot of effort. We're entering a new competition.

"In the approach we take, it's completely different. We know that we can't make an error. There will be adversity. We will have a great team playing against us who have achieved beautiful things in recent seasons.

"We know the mental aspect will come into play. This will certainly be key to success. We have to produce a performance of a very, very high level to get through to the next round.

"We can count on our background and experience but that's not enough. We have to put all the necessary ingredients together to succeed.

"This wil mean lots of effort, sacrifices, talent and equally discipline. We have to be prepared to overcome this challenge in a mental sense. All of this as a team. From the start we've lived this adventure with all the players, the technical and medical staff. We want to go as far together as possible."

 

France have a number of injuries, with Lucas Digne, Jules Kounde and Marcus Thuram all ruled out by head coach Didier Deschamps. Lucas Hernandez could be involved, though, after a knee problem.

Goalkeeper Lloris said: "It's up to us to give the response on the pitch, by putting in the necessary energy, showing discipline and making the efforts to write our history and create success.

"We're a team of competitors, we don't like losing, but especially when you know that you can go home, the challenge is even greater. It's up to us to do what is necessary in our performance to still be there in the next round and to rise to the occasion."

Karim Benzema's two goals in the draw with Portugal were a welcome boost for France, with the recalled Real Madrid striker showing his value.

Benzema and Antoine Griezmann, who scored in the draw with Hungary, are the only France players to score so far at these finals, with a Mats Hummels own goal bringing about the team's opening win over Germany.

There is surely more to come from the likes of Kylian Mbappe, who has had a team-high eight shots at goal and built up an expected goals tally of 1.29, second only to Benzema (1.71).

According to Lloris, there was never any doubt about Benzema's impact on his return, even before he made a goalscoring contribution.

"I think he's been ready, since he was called up, to do what is necessary for the team but also in a personal sense to bring his experience, his background and his talent in order to help the France team," Lloris said.

"Obviously a striker is looking for goals, that builds confidence. We already know his influence on the team's game, we've not needed to wait for him to score these two goals to see it."

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