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EURO2016: Sturdy Switzerland hold France to make Euro history

Switzerland have progressed to the knockout stage of the European Championships for the first time ever courtesy of a 0-0 draw with France.

The Swiss forced the result necessary in Lille for them to finish in the top two in Group A where they have finished on five points, two behind the hosts, who appeared to have settled for the draw midway through the second half.

Didier Deschamps started tournament star Dimitri Payet on the bench, as well as Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi, giving starts to Kingsley Coman, Moussa Sissoko and Andre-Pierre Gignac while Vladimir Petkovic handed talented striker Breel Embolo just his second international start.

Early on, there was a scare for France when Fabian Schar's header from a corner fell to the back post where Paul Pogba was on hand to clear under duress from a floored Embolo.

Moments later, the Juventus star tested eventual Man of the Match Yann Sommer with a clever shot on the turn before the Swiss keeper again denied the midfielder with a strong hand to keep out a well-hit left-footed volley from an angle.

On 18 minutes, Pogba advanced at the Swiss defence before unleashing a fizzing left-footer which crashed into the crossbar.

As the second half progressed, we had already seen a number of the Swiss player's shirts ripped before another bizarre incident occurred when the ball popped under the feet of Antoine Griezmann and Valon Behrami outside the French box.

Soon thereafter, Griezmann played a nice one-two with Gignac but he got under his right-footed shot which Sommer easily dealt with.

France probed once more for a winner with 15 minutes remaining when Sissoko made a barnstorming run from deep inside his own defensive area before setting up an onrushing Payet with a lovely ball from the right but the West Ham United playmaker crashed his volley into the woodwork in spectacular fashion.

In injury time, Switzerland were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Bacary Sagna forced Blerim Dzemaili to the ground with a substantial shirt grab bug the protests were waved away as Les Bleus moved through to the knockout phase to take on the third-placed side from either Group C,D or E, alongside the Swiss who will meet the runner-up of Group C which at this point is Poland but could also be Germany or Northern Ireland.

Euro2016 - Group A

Switzerland: 0
France: 0
Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille - 49,000

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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