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EURO 2020: Swiss history makers hailed by coach, captain and fans

Vladimir Petkovic, who has coached the Swiss over the last seven years, said his side had reached a new level.“I will be asking for the same from them again,” he said of their quarter-final with Spain in St Petersburg on Friday.

By: Reuters | Bucharest |
June 29, 2021 10:02:12 am
Switzerland vs France, Euro 2020Players of Switzerland celebrate winning the Euro 2020 championship round of 16 match between France and Switzerland at the National Arena stadium in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (Robert Ghement/Pool via AP)

Switzerland’s extraordinary comeback to eliminate world champions France from the European Championship on Monday drew superlatives from both coach and captain after their penalty shootout success.

Manager Vladimir Petkovic and skipper Granit Xhaka hailed the achievement of the first Swiss side to reach the last eight of a major tournament since they hosted the World Cup in 1954 after fighting back to draw 3-3 and advance 5-4 on spot kicks.

“No normal side would have come back from 3-1 down against the world champions,” said Petkovic, who equalled the record for the most matches in charge of the Switzerland team. Xhaka said they had written a new chapter, which was particularly satisfying after the stinging criticism that followed their 3-0 loss to Italy in Rome on June 16 in their second Group A match.

“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.

“It was the 65th or the 68th minute, I looked up at the stadium clock, it was a corner against us and I said to Yann (Sommer), we have to wake up or this will all be over.“It was too early to give up, we had 25 minutes left and I knew when we pulled it back to 3-2, we could go on and equalise.”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.”

Petkovic, who has coached the Swiss over the last seven years, said his side had reached a new level.“I will be asking for the same from them again,” he said of their quarter-final with Spain in St Petersburg on Friday.

Mbappe will bounce back after penalty miss, says Deschamps

Striker Kylian Mbappe will bounce back from missing the decisive penalty in France’s shootout loss to Switzerland on Monday that saw the world champions exit Euro 2020 at the last-16 stage, coach Didier Deschamps said.

The French threw away a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 in normal time, and after a goalless extra time, they crashed out when Mbappe’s penalty was saved by Swiss keeper Yann Sommer.

Kylian Mbappe France’s Kylian Mbappe reacts after his shot is saved by Switzerland’s Yann Sommer during the penalty shoot-out. (REUTERS/Justin Setterfield)

Deschamps said the striker and the rest of the team would learn from their tournament disappointment”It will help everyone I think. Kylian, even if he didn’t score a goal (at the Euros), he was decisive in many actions that we had, and he took responsibility to take this penalty,” he told a news conference.

“No-one is really angry with him. I talked to our players, we know the strength of this team, we’ve had many magnificent moments together — today it really hurts, there’s lots of sadness,” he added.

The 52-year-old coach dismissed suggestions none of Mbappe’s team mates went to comfort him after his spot kick was saved.”The whole group is united in the dressing room. No-one talks about ‘you made this mistake’ or ‘you made that mistake’, Kylian knows his responsibility,” added Deschamps.

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