Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Swiss follow France to last 16

Published:Monday | June 20, 2016 | 6:00 AM
Switzerland's Johan Djourou (left) and France's Paul Pogba jump for the ball during the Euro 2016 Group A soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve d’Ascq, near Lille, France, yesterday.

PARIS (AP):

France and Switzerland settled for a 0-0 draw that suited both sides, while Albania staked their claim to a place in the last 16 of the European Championship by eliminating Romania in a 1-0 victory yesterday.

Two years ago in Brazil, France overran the Swiss in a 5-2 rout at the World Cup, but in Lille, it was a very different story. Switzerland matched France for possession to secure second place behind the host nation in Group A - and seal their first appearance in the knockout stages of the European Championship.

France had the better of the scoring chances, with midfielder Paul Pogba hitting the crossbar in the first half with a swerving shot from 25 metres. Substitute Dimitri Payet, who scored in both of the team's previous games, did the same in the 75th minute with a fine volley.

But the hosts have yet to really hit their stride at the tournament and will look for an improvement when they take on one of the third-place teams in a week's time.

"I'm not blind, I know we can do better - but a new competition starts for us on Sunday," France coach Didier Deschamps said.

 

BAD GAME

 

It was a particularly bad game for kit suppliers, with the ball bursting in the second half and Switzerland having to provide three new shirts for their players after the originals ripped.

After two narrow defeats, Albania's victory over Romania has given them a fighting chance of advancing to the knockout stages as one of the best third-place teams at the tournament.

Armando Sadiku scored the only goal with a far-post header over goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu, who had left his line. It was also Albania's first ever goal in an international tournament.

"If we stay in the tournament, we will be trouble to other teams, to important teams, because today we got some more confidence," Albania's Italian coach Giovanni De Biasi said through a translator. "We needed the first two games to settle in."

Albania, who have three points on the board, must wait to find out if they will be playing in the last 16 as one of the four best third-place teams at Euro 2016.

A wide open Group B will be settled today, when Russia play Wales in Toulouse and England take on Slovakia in Saint-Etienne.

England are currently on top with four points, followed by Wales and Slovakia on three points, while Russia have one.