Football 1 year ago

France misfire, Swiss into knockout stage

  • France misfire, Swiss into knockout stage

    France's midfielder Paul Pogba (C) embraces France's defender Bacary Sagna (R) next to France's defender Adil Rami (L) at the end of the Euro 2016 group A football match between Switzerland and France at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Lille on June 19, 2016. / AFP / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Switzerland rode their luck to earn a 0-0 draw against a misfiring France to reach the knockout stage at a European Championship for the first time on Sunday as they finished second in Group A behind the hosts.

Les Bleus hit the woodwork three times, including two efforts by the impressive Paul Pogba and a spectacular strike from substitute Dimitri Payet.

Despite their failure to score, they still managed to top their section with seven points, two ahead of Switzerland.

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In the group's other game, which was played simultaneously, tournament debutants Albania finished third on three points after a surprise 1-0 win over Romania, who were eliminated with one point.

The French may have gone through the group stage unbeaten, but coach Didier Deschamps said that his side would have to up their game for the knockout stages.

"We hoped for more, but at least we have reached our first goal which was to qualify and to win the group," he said.

"I'm not blind, I can see we need to do better than that. Switzerland did good things technically, but the best chances were for us.

"Had we been more realistic and a bit more lucky, we would have won this game. Now a second competition is starting, in which we need to step up a gear."

In the next round, France will take on a third-placed team in the last 16, while Switzerland will play Group C runners up - possibly Poland or Germany.

Wasteful in front of goal here, the French will have to be more clinical in their finishing if they are to repeat their 1998 heroics, when they won the World Cup on home soil.

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris equalled the record of Deschamps, who captained that 1998 side, by skippering Les Bleus for the 54th time, but it was his Swiss counterpart Yann Sommer who was the busiest in the first half.

"We had the chances to win this game but we're first in the group," said Pogba.

The Juventus star was imperious in the first half on his recall to France's starting line-up after being relegated to the bench in the previous game against Albania.

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