France misfire as lucky Switzerland reach knockout stage

Sun Jun 19, 2016 6:13pm EDT
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By Philip O'Connor

LILLE, France (Reuters) - 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.

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 France 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."   Continued...

Football Soccer - Switzerland v France - EURO 2016 - Group A - Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille, France - 19/6/16
France's Paul Pogba in action with Switzerland's Blerim Dzemaili 
REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes