In an extraordinary match that went right down to the wire and contained goals aplenty, Switzerland edged past World Champions France in their Round of 16 clash at the National Arena in Bucharest. Switzerland took the lead in the match when Haris Seferovic opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Although they held their lead till half-time, Les Bleus quickly wriggled their way back into the game from a quick-fire Karim Benzema brace. Star midfielder Paul Pogba scored a wonderful goal to establish exactly why France were the favourites to win the tournament.
However, things took a turn for the worse soon for Didier Deschamps and his men as Seferovic struck again in the 81st minute. In the 90th minute of the game, Swiss captain Granit Xhaka capped off a wonderful performance by putting Mario Gavranovic through who fooled two defenders and slotted the ball calmly past Hugo Lloris to restore parity. The rest, as they say, is history. With extra-time proving insufficient to separate the two sides, Yann Sommer emerged tall against Kylian Mbappe in penalties and helped his side progress to the quarter-finals.
Their sensational come-back found plenty of adulation from head coach Vladimir Petkovic and captain Granit Xhaka. “No normal side would have come back from 3-1 down against the world champions,” said Petkovic.
Captain of the side Granit Xhaka who was brilliant on the night said that Switzerland deserved to go through and he was extremely proud of his boys.
“I’ve always said this team deserved a lot more than you can read,” he told the post-match news conference. “There was so much discussion about this team. They said we were arrogant but I can guarantee you one thing, we really wrote a history. All Swiss people can be really proud. We achieved something that is impossible to describe with words.”
“I had a positive feeling and in my opinion, we played a perfect first half. Then we missed a penalty and conceded three goals. This was a slap in the face but we committed mistakes. But that we still turned it around against a team such as France, with all the top players in their ranks, is just unbelievable,” Xhaka added.
Xhaka also recalled how in the 65th or 68th minute he looked at the stadium clock and told goalkeeper Yann Sommer that the side needs to wake up else it’ll all be over. Wake up, Switzerland really did and enthralled the world in the process.
“We were the better team and we wanted to win the match then in extra time. Then, in the end, we were lucky that we have a great goalkeeper to save the penalty,” concluded the proud Swiss captain.