What. A. Thriller. France was eliminated from Euro 2020 after an epic game against Switzerland, which could only be decided in a penalty shootout.

switzerland euro2020
Switzerland produced the biggest surprise at Euro 2020 by knocking France out in the Round of 16 after an epic penalty shootout. (Image: Twitter/deniszakaria8)

Spain and Croatia produced a similar outing, with La Roja finally winning in extra-time thanks to goals from Morata and Oyarzabal. Both games finished 3-3 over 90 minutes, with both underdogs, Switzerland and Croatia, coming back from behind in the last 10 minutes to score twice and push the games into extra time.

Drama in Copenhagen

Croatia had a one-goal advantage after 20 minutes against Spain following an incredible own goal. Pedri sent the ball back to goalkeeper Unai Simon, who couldn’t control it and ended up being beaten. Luis Enrique’s team managed to equalize before half-time thanks to a goal from Pablo Sarabia (’38), then put two more goals on the 1-1 foundation. Azpilicueta (’57) and Ferran Torres (’77) put Spain on cruising speed, but for Croatia, this wasn’t over. Orsic (’85) got his team back in the game, then Pasalic, in the second minute of added time, stunned Spain to tie the game at 3-3. The tiki-taka faithful didn’t lose their heads, as Morata (‘100) and Oyarzabal (‘103) settled the affair.

“We knew Croatia would be tough, they have world-class players. I don’t know what the future will bring, but we have prepared for moments like these,” Spain forward Alvaro Morata said after the game.

“We deserved it, we’ve been superior,” Spain captain Sergio Busquets explained. “The goal we first conceded was unlucky, but that’s football. We created chances, we came into the box, we were eager to win the match.”

Spain manager Luis Enrique defended his team’s style, saying the strategy won’t change. “We won’t play long ball, defensive football, even if playing this way brings wild matches like this. We only defend by trying to have the ball and play.”

Spain will now play Switzerland on July 2 in St. Petersburg for a place in the semifinals.

Madness in Bucharest

Just minutes after the crazy Croatia vs. Spain match finished, the action moved to Bucharest for France vs. Switzerland. The World Champions and Euro 2020 favorites, France looked set to finish the job fast against Switzerland. It was the Swiss who scored first, though at the 15-minute mark. Seferovic headed the ball past Hugo Lloris from a perfect cross sent by Zuber. The French didn’t look bothered, but their superiority rarely meant action in the Switzerland box.

The events in the first half couldn’t predict the havoc after the game restarted. It was heaven and hell for the French, who first conceded a penalty after 55 minutes. Pavard fouled Zuber and the ref was helped by VAR to point to the spot. Rodriguez took the shot, but Lloris captained his team’s chances and saved his first penalty at the international level since 2012.

Logic can’t explain what followed, as France went from being 1-0 down to a one-goal advantage in the space of just four minutes. Benzema scored both, putting the French on a wave of confidence. Also surfing on that one, Paul Pogba made it 3-1 after 75 minutes, scoring with a beautiful top corner shot from outside the box.

And yet, it wasn’t over. Seferovic punched with another header (’81), then Gavranovic, who also had a goal disallowed for offside, sent the game to extra time with a 90th-minute goal. France and Switzerland forgot everything about defending and tried to knock each other out in a fantastic atmosphere created by the 25,000 fans in Bucharest.

The winner couldn’t be decided, so the game moved to penalties. Here, the spoiled and highly talented Kylian Mbappe missed the decisive penalty, allowing a roar of desperate joy from the Swiss players, staff, and supporters. France was out.

Lloris: ‘It was football the way we like it’

France’s Round of 16 defeat to Switzerland is among the biggest shocks in the history of the Euros. A sad Hugo Lloris argued that the game was an exhibition of “football the way we like it,” despite his team’s defeat. Lloris, meanwhile, stood behind Mbappe, saying “we win together, we lose together.”

“We went through every emotion possible. The two goals we conceded in the last quarter of an hour really hurt us,” the France skipper added.

Yann Sommer, the Swiss keeper who saved Mbappe’s penalty was equally emotional. “What a game, what a football night. The end is crazy, it’s beautiful,” he told UEFA.com. “We went two goals down, the situation was very difficult for us. I’m really proud of how we came back. We always believed. We spoke before the game to go until the end, no matter what happens. It was our chance of going through after many failed attempts. We played with heart, with a lot of morale and it’s a beautiful feeling.”

France manager Didier Deschamps defended Mbappe by saying “he is incredibly sad, as are all the players, but nobody can be upset with him as he took on the responsibility of taking the fifth penalty.” Deschamps went on and blamed his player’s “weakness” for their elimination in Bucharest.

“We did what we needed to go 3-1 up and then we showed weakness, something unusual for us. Losing on penalties is always cruel for a team.”

With France out, Spain and Italy are now the favorites to win Euro 2020. The bookies have both at +350. England is at +450, with Germany at +600. Belgium will be without De Bruyne and Eden Hazard in their quarterfinal match against Italy, so bookies now have them at +600 to win the trophy. Despite beating France, Switzerland is second from the bottom on the favorites list at +2000. Only the Czech Republic at +2500 is doing worse.

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