Bucharest, Jun 28 (EFE).- Switzerland pulled off the biggest upset thus far of Euro 2020 here Monday, rallying to force extra time against reigning World Cup champion France and then winning 3-3 (5-4) in a penalty shootout when keeper Yann Sommer denied superstar striker Kylian Mbappe.
The heavily favored French came out aggressively in this round-of-16 contest at Arena Nationala in Bucharest, but the Swiss surprisingly struck first in the 15th minute when Haris Seferovic rose high to head home a cross from Steven Zuber.
The underdogs then had a golden opportunity to extend their lead when they earned a penalty attempt early in the 55th minute, but the match took a 180-degree turn when Ricardo Rodriguez’s weak kick was saved at the bottom-left corner by French net minder Hugo Lloris.
Just two minutes later, France had the lead thanks in large part to Karim Benzema, who scored the equalizer off a pass from Mbappe and then put his team ahead when he headed home a perfect pass from Antoine Griezmann at point-blank range.
Paul Pogba appeared to put the match out of reach with a phenomenal goal into the top right corner in minute 75, but Switzerland stunned the world champions – and the entire soccer world – by scoring a pair of goals down the stretch: one on another header by Seferovic and then a strike by Mario Gavranovic just before second-half stoppage time to level the contest at 3-3.
The match went to extra time and then a penalty shootout, in which nine straight goals were scored before Sommer secured the victory – and a quarterfinal match-up for Switzerland against Spain – by keeping Mbappe’s attempt from entering the top-left corner. EFE