Kylian Mbappe missed the decisive penalty as Euro 2020 favourites crashed out to Switzerland, losing 5-4 on penalties following a thrilling 3-3 draw after extra time.
France looked destined to win in 90 minutes, but surrendered a 3-1 lead, forcing extra time and ultimately, the dreaded penalty shootout.
Les Bleus had all the ball in the opening exchanges but it was the Swiss that took a shock lead when Haris Seferovic expertly headed past Hugo Lloris.
Minutes after the break, Switzerland were handed a golden chance to double their lead, when after a VAR check Benjamin Pavard was adjudged to have fouled Steven Zuber.
Ricardo Rodriguuez took the resulting spot kick, but Lloris guessed right and and clawed it out of the bottom corner.
And just over four minutes later, France had completed the turnaround, with Karim Benzema netting two goals in rapid fashion.
Paul Pogba made it 3-1 with a stunning strike and France looked all-but through, only for Seferovic to halve the deficit, setting the stage for Mario Gavranovic to score a late equaliser to take the game into extra time.
Kylian Mbappe had the best chance in the additional 30 minutes, firing his shot into the side netting when clean through.
That meant penalties and after the first nine were converted, Mbappe saw his saved by Yann Sommer dumping the World Cup winners out in the round of 16.
Switzerland will now face Spain on Friday after a result that has blown Euro 2020 wide open.
Here are five talking points from the breathless clash in Romania’s capital:
Deschamps’ plan backfires
For the first time since September 2020, Didier Deschamps named a starting XI with a three-man backline.
The absence of Lucas Digne forced his hand, with Clement Lenglet added to the pairing of Raphael Varane and Presnel Kimpembe.
Lenglet looked rusty in the early stages however and Seferovic took full advantage of his tentative start to leap above him and put the Swiss in front.
Adrien Rabiot was deployed as a makeshift left wing-back and also appeared to struggle.
After less than 40 minutes, Deschamps was forced into a desperate change of plan, an admission he got his pre-match team selection completely wrong.
It looked like he may have got out of jail, but Switzerland’s dramatic comeback means the focus will surely be back on the manager as his big gamble backfired spectacularly.
The art of being a true number 9 may be one that has died off somewhat in recent seasons, but Haris Seferovic showed that an imposing central striker still has a major part in elite football.
The 29-year-old is coming off his second season in the last three, where he has managed to net more than 25 times for Benfica.
For Switzerland, he now has 24 and his opening goal displayed all of his credentials perfectly clearly.
Peeling away from Lenglet, he gave the Barcelona defender a slight nudge to give him a free header at goal – a chance he was never going to pass up.
His second was similarly emphatic as he thumped another header home to bring a shell shocked Switzerland back into the tie.
Major tournaments often put players in the shop window and with Benfica facing up to some financial strife, he could secure himself a move.
UEFA’s big problem rears its head again
Thankfully Breel Embolo’s heavy clash of heads didn’t lead to anything more serious, but it did once again raise the question of how football is dealing with head injuries.
Earlier this tournament, France full-back Benjamin Pavard admitted he was “knocked out” after a collision with Robin Gosens.
Unlike the Premier League, Euro 2020 doesn’t have the option of concussion subs, something that is surely now essential at all levels of the game.
Embolo was allowed back onto the pitch despite his head injury only being treated with a splash of water.
It was particularly galling considering there were only seconds remaining before the first-half came to a close. That 15 minutes would have allowed a proper assessment to come to a satisfactory conclusion that he was able to continue.
For all of the technological advancements in the game, the lack of care over concussions leave football in the dark ages.
Deschamps’ ill-fated decision to start with three at the back affected many within his line-up, but perhaps none more so than Paul Pogba.
In a two with N’Golo Kante, the Manchester United struggle to have the kind of influence that he has exerted in the three games previous.
As soon as France stepped up a gear, Pogba stepped up three.
There are questions as to why the Pogba that plays for France doesn’t seem to play for Manchester United.
Well that’s a question for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, because this Paul Pogba could be one of the best midfielders on the planet.
His goal was one of the best the tournament has seen so far and but for a spectacular defensive collapse would have been the one to see his side through.
Pogba didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. Thoughts now turn to how Solskjaer can bring this midfielder back to Old Trafford.
Gary Neville voiced what many sat at home would have been thinking: “This France side are vulnerable”.
A team that many lauded as the overwhelming favourites to win the entire tournament.
But in the four games of their doomed campaign, France failed to address the serious questions raised against them.
In those encounters, Germany tested them, Hungary held them, Portugal frightened them and Switzerland ruthlessly exposed their defensive frailties.
Switzerland stunned the watching world, but it was a result that was richly deserved on a night when France’s reputation took a serious hit.