Rolled over: Switzerland shock France to book spot in Euro 2020 quarter-final in St. Petersburg after Mbappe fails in shootout
Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer was the shootout hero as he saved from Kylian Mbappe, after all nine players before the Paris Saint-Germain forward had found their mark.
The shock sees the Swiss book a quarter-final date with Spain in St. Petersburg on Friday, following one of the most momentous nights in Switzerland's football history.
On a rollercoaster ride in the Romanian capital, the Swiss took a shock lead through Haris Seferovic in the 15th minute and even missed a second-half penalty, before France struck back in a blistering period with a double in the space of two minutes from Karim Benzema and then a long-range hit from Paul Pogba.
But the Swiss were not done and forced extra-time as Seferovic struck again inside the last 10 minutes and then substitute Mario Gavranovic produced a superbly composed 90th-minute goal to level the scores.
The teams couldn’t be separated in extra-time, and it was the Swiss who prevailed via the lottery of spot kicks although it is a triumph few would begrudge them following such heroics against a team widely tipped as the best at the tournament.
After Spain and Croatia put on an eight-goal thriller in Copenhagen earlier in the day, anyone hoping for a slightly more serene evening in Bucharest would have been disappointed.
Instead, this was another wild ride which had fans on the edge of their seats for much of the match – from the moment Seferovic maneuvered Clement Lenglet out of his way to head Steven Zuber’s cross past Hugo Lloris to give the Swiss an early lead.
Rather than rouse France into a response, Didier Deschamps’ men failed to muster a single shot on target for the remainder of the half as the world champions looked strangely bereft of spark.
But French fortune – and the match – seemed destined to turn on its head in the space of five second-half minutes.
First, the Swiss spurned the chance to go two goals up from the penalty spot when Steven Zuber was brought down by a sliding Benjamin Pavard, with VAR checks showing the challenge was just inside the box.
Ricardo Rodriguez stepped up and struck the ball truly enough, but Lloris guessed correctly and the French skipper made a diving save to his right.
Suddenly jolted into life, France were not about to let their reprieve slip.
Moments later at the other end, Benzema collected an Mbappe pass, deftly bringing it under control before steering his shot beyond Sommer.
Two minutes later and France were in front – and again it was Benzema. Antoine Griezmann fed Mbappe, who flicked a backheel into Griezmann’s path as the Barcelona man continued his run before dinking the ball towards the back post, where Benzema was lurking to head in from close range.
So quiet for the opening 60 minutes, this was the burst of electricity from the French front three that they had been crying out for.
With 15 minutes to play, the reversal appeared complete. Pogba seized on a loose ball around 25 yards out and centrally placed, letting fly with an effort which ended up in the top corner of Sommer’s goal.
All of a sudden, the French were flying and surely on their way to a last eight date with Spain in St. Petersburg.
But if an incredible day of Euro drama had taught fans anything, it was not to discount even the most implausible of scenarios.
So that proved as Seferovic grabbed a second to cut the deficit to 3-2 in the 81st minute, heading in a Kevin Mbabu cross from the right.
Incredibly, the Swiss then thought they had an equalizer when substitute Gavranovic poked the ball into the net from close range, but he was ruled out for a marginal offside.
The moment seemed to encapsulate a match of spurned Swiss chances and France being let off the hook.
But there was a twist yet to come when supersub Gavranovic turned inside to put Prensel Kimpembe on his backside before drilling the ball into the bottom corner to level affairs at 3-3.
The Swiss were in ecstasy, a blur of red and white as players celebrated on the pitch and fans went wild in the crowd.
Remarkably, there was still time for Kingsley Coman to rattle the crossbar at the other end deep into injury time – although this time it was Switzerland who were handed a let-off that their resilience surely deserved.
Into extra-time and France lost Benzema to injury in the opening period, sending on targetman Olivier Giroud for a new dimension to their attack.
Mbappe then wasted a glorious chance as he sent the ball into the side netting, limping away afterwards in mitigation for the missed opportunity.
And so it went to penalties, where the Swiss rolled their rivals out of the tournament and Mbappe's effort was pushed away brilliantly by Sommer.
France head home with no European title to add to the World Cup they won in Russia, while the Swiss must be wondering if they are in a mid-Sommer night’s dream following a spellbinding night in Bucharest.