Switzerland through to Euro knockout round for first time

Monday, 2016-06-20 11:54:40
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Paul Pogba is France's most outstanding player in the first half. (Photo: Goal)
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NDO – Switzerland held France to a sweet goalless draw in the last Group A match on June 20, which was enough to fire coach Vladimir Petkovic’s team through to the Euro knockout stage for the first time in history.  

France entered the match comfortably and were under no pressure as the two previous wins had secured them a place in the last 16. Meanwhile, Switzerland would need at least a draw against the host team to be able to decide their-own fate.

French coach Didier Deschamps did not hide his ambition to safeguard the hosts’ Group A top position, still sending on his strongest lineup, with the presence of Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba in the attack line.

Pogba emerged as France’s most outstanding player in the first 20 minutes constantly threatening the Swiss goal. The Juventus midfielder would have put his team in front if his 18th strike had not hit the crossbar or if goalkeeper Sommer had failed to block his shots in the 12th and 13th minutes.

After the break, France remained on course with attack waves towards the Swiss field. Griezmann had the first chance of the second-half in the 57th minute with a close-range strike that was again blocked by Sommer.

Dimitri Prayet, France’s superstar in previous matches, was sent to the field four minutes after the hour mark, with the hope of breaking the deadlock for the home side. The West Ham midfielder played energetically and left a strong impression with a volley at the crossbar in the 75th-minute; however, his efforts were still not enough to make France the first team to conclude the group stage with three straight victories.

Despite no goals scored, the aggregate result proved to be enough to satisfy the coach of each side. With one more point, the Deschamps’ side advanced to the last 16 as Group A leaders with seven points, while the draw helped Switzerland end-up in second place with five points overall, thus booking a place into the knockout stage for the first time in history.

In another Group A clash, Albania edged Romania 1-0 to settle for third position with three points.

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