Didier Deschamps has frequently faced accusations that he makes his world champions France unpalatably dull considering the enviable attacking talent at his disposal.

Maybe boredom trumps humiliation.

You could call sending his players out to take on Switzerland in an unfamiliar 3-4-3 formation plenty of things, given very few of them appeared to have the foggiest idea what they were supposed to be doing. But it certainly wasn't dull.

By half-time in a Euro 2020 last-16 tie that looked a formality on paper, France were 1-0 down and had not managed a shot on target.

Even allowing for the disorganisation, uncertainty and flailing team-mates playing out of position behind them, this spoke poorly of the dream Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann forward line. 

A magic triangle to rival the celebrated magic square, or carre magique, of Michel Platini, Jean Tigana, Luis Fernandez and Alan Giresse that inspired France to European Championship glory in 1984 appeared to have few tricks up their sleeve. For one of them, their night in Bucharest would get far, far worse.

Haris Seferovic's dominant header made mincemeat of Clement Lenglet and France's dubious defensive positioning in general, but the manner in which Benzema, Mbappe and Griezmann were caught watching events unfold – not attempting to get back goal side before the ball was worked out to Steven Zuber for his fourth assist of the tournament – reflected some combination of disorganisation and disinterest.

 

"It was a disaster, this first-half," Deschamps former international team-mate Patrick Vieira told ITV at the interval.  "We can talk about the organisation, the new system, but there is a positive attitude to have."

The system was ripe for the bin, regardless, and Kingsley Coman came on for the embattled Lenglet. Benjamin Pavard celebrated being back in his more familiar right-back position by clattering into Zuber and conceding a penalty.

Handily for Deschamps, his captain Hugo Lloris is rarely anything other than entertaining. A raking pass to set up Griezmann's goal against Hungary was followed by him punching Danilo Pereira in the head to give up a spot-kick in the 2-2 draw against Portugal.

Lloris got a fleeting look at a pair of Cristiano Ronaldo penalties in that game, but Ricardo Rodriguez's left-footed strike from 12 yards lacked the power or disguise necessary to outfox Tottenham's number one. It was the sort of moment that can haunt a career.

Then the magic happened. Griezmann found Mbappe, whose pass was under hit and behind Benzema. The Real Madrid striker brilliantly brought it under his spell with a Bergkamp-esque piece of skill and finished emphatically.

The trio who cowered towards the left channel ineffectively before half-time had burst into life. Griezmann completed a give-and-go with Mbappe and chipped to the back post for Benzema to nod in. Four minutes and two seconds after Rodriguez's penalty was saved, France led 2-1.

 

It was easy to ask why Deschamps doesn't take the handbrake off more often when Paul Pogba's stunning 25-yard strike brought the house down. Well, we had our answer when the roof fell in on France.

Seferovic found some more vintage centre-forward play to head his second before Pogba was ransacked in midfield and Granit Xhaka's majestic pass located a touch and finish to match from substitute Mario Gavranovic.

Spain 5-3 Croatia the game of the day with unmatchable drama? Hold my Beaujolais!

Coman hit the crossbar in injury time and Pavard was superbly denied by Yann Sommer in extra time as Mbappe's radar remained curiously off.

He slashed dreadfully into the side-netting after injury had denied Benzema the chance of a hat-trick. Coman crafted that chance but limped off immediately after, continuing the sense of an improbable unravelling. Griezmann was already on the sidelines, having been sacrificed to protect the result in normal time.

Despite weary legs and minds, nine immaculate penalties followed, meaning it fell to Mbappe after 14 shots and no goals in the tournament. The one remaining star forward was asked to save his side, facing the sort of moment to haunt a career.

 

Never before can this superman footballer have felt so hopelessly human in his stellar young career. Sommer sensed his moment, sprung to his right and clawed away France's claims on sporting immortality.

Back-to-back World Cups would secure such a status and expect Mbappe to be more like himself again by Qatar 2022. One-and-a-half years of pandemic football has sapped everyone.

Deschamps' contract will also keep him in place until then and the stew of confusion and chaos served up in Bucharest is likely to prompt further caution. Despite leading his players to the top of the mountain three years ago, it somehow feels like he's selling them short.    

Kylian Mbappe saw the crucial spot-kick saved by Yann Sommer as Euro 2020 favourites France were eliminated by Switzerland in a thrilling shoot-out after a dramatic 3-3 draw in Monday's last-16 tie.

France looked to have battled back from the brink after going a goal down early on and conceding a penalty only to then find themselves 3-1 up with 15 minutes of regulation time remaining in Bucharest.

But a late Swiss fight-back saw Haris Seferovic net his second and Mario Gavranovic force extra-time after cancelling out Karim Benzema's brace and Paul Pogba's scorcher.

Both sides had chances in the extra 30 minutes but poor finishing meant the game went to penalties, where Mbappe's disappointing tournament was summed up with the unsuccessful kick that sent France packing, Sommer diving to his right to make the save that sent remarkably sent Switzerland through 5-4 in the shoot-out.

 

Aymeric Laporte has claimed Didier Deschamps did not reply to his messages before the defender switched international allegiance from France to Spain.

Manchester City centre-back Laporte declared for La Roja last month after being granted Spanish citizenship, leading to him being included in their 24-man Euro 2020 squad.

Laporte represented France at youth level, including the Under-21s, but was never handed a senior cap despite being called up by Deschamps.

The 27-year-old has made a positive start to his Spain career by helping his side to three clean sheets in his first four caps, while also scoring in last week's 5-0 win over Slovakia.

Spain finished second in their Euro 2020 group and are on course to face France in the quarter-finals should the heavyweight nations see off Croatia and Switzerland respectively in the last 16.

Deschamps insisted ahead of the tournament he was only ever contacted once by Laporte to discuss an injury issue, but the player has refuted those suggestions.

"They called me six years ago. But in 2019? No, they didn't call me. While I don't want to go over this again, I had sent a message and didn't get a reply," he told The Guardian.

"I have it here. Maybe [Deschamps] changed number, got a new phone. Could be. I don't know, but I replied to the same number he'd called from before.

"I didn't get a reply then. Anyway, given everything that happened, nor did I think I was important enough to France to have to inform them of anything.

"My importance to them has been more a media issue than anything. I've always been very clear that I'm going to be with those that want me, not those that don't.

"I'm not saying France didn't want me, but I'm grateful to those that bet on me. Spain did and I'm trying to return that faith."

 

Laporte's passing accuracy of 96.64 is the third-highest of any player to have played more than 90 minutes at Euro 2020, behind Axel Witsel (96.91) and Dedryck Boyata (97.74).

The former Athletic Bilbao man's 86.33 successful passes per 90 minutes, meanwhile, has been bettered by just five others, including new team-mate Pau Torres (94.52), reflecting how quickly he has settled in with his adopted national team.

"Everyone has different feelings. I felt comfortable coming with Spain, fully identified," he said. "That's what made me change everything. 

"Also, my family hasn't spent eight years in Spain like me.

"I'd been in contact with Spain for years because they've always wanted me. Luis Enrique called. I took the decision.

"It wasn't easy at all. My family still lives in France and from very young I played there with the national team. 

"There were family chats, discussions, an exchange of opinions, the same doubts there would be if you had dual nationality I imagine."

France captain Hugo Lloris believes the outcome of the Euro 2020 last-16 clash with Switzerland will hinge on the match-day attitude of Les Bleus.

The title favourites have yet to truly hit their stride, narrowly beating Germany but drawing with Portugal and Hungary in the group stage.

They topped Group F but left room for improvement, and will look to show in Monday's clash with the Swiss in Bucharest that their pedigree has not been overstated.

Lloris said in a news conference on Sunday: "We've turned the page from the group stage which demanded a lot of effort. We're entering a new competition.

"In the approach we take, it's completely different. We know that we can't make an error. There will be adversity. We will have a great team playing against us who have achieved beautiful things in recent seasons.

"We know the mental aspect will come into play. This will certainly be key to success. We have to produce a performance of a very, very high level to get through to the next round.

"We can count on our background and experience but that's not enough. We have to put all the necessary ingredients together to succeed.

"This wil mean lots of effort, sacrifices, talent and equally discipline. We have to be prepared to overcome this challenge in a mental sense. All of this as a team. From the start we've lived this adventure with all the players, the technical and medical staff. We want to go as far together as possible."

 

France have a number of injuries, with Lucas Digne, Jules Kounde and Marcus Thuram all ruled out by head coach Didier Deschamps. Lucas Hernandez could be involved, though, after a knee problem.

Goalkeeper Lloris said: "It's up to us to give the response on the pitch, by putting in the necessary energy, showing discipline and making the efforts to write our history and create success.

"We're a team of competitors, we don't like losing, but especially when you know that you can go home, the challenge is even greater. It's up to us to do what is necessary in our performance to still be there in the next round and to rise to the occasion."

Karim Benzema's two goals in the draw with Portugal were a welcome boost for France, with the recalled Real Madrid striker showing his value.

Benzema and Antoine Griezmann, who scored in the draw with Hungary, are the only France players to score so far at these finals, with a Mats Hummels own goal bringing about the team's opening win over Germany.

There is surely more to come from the likes of Kylian Mbappe, who has had a team-high eight shots at goal and built up an expected goals tally of 1.29, second only to Benzema (1.71).

According to Lloris, there was never any doubt about Benzema's impact on his return, even before he made a goalscoring contribution.

"I think he's been ready, since he was called up, to do what is necessary for the team but also in a personal sense to bring his experience, his background and his talent in order to help the France team," Lloris said.

"Obviously a striker is looking for goals, that builds confidence. We already know his influence on the team's game, we've not needed to wait for him to score these two goals to see it."

Karim Benzema will hope to build upon a return to the international scoresheet when France take on Switzerland in the last 16 of Euro 2020.

Benzema netted both his team's goals in 2-2 draw with Portugal that secured top spot in Group F for Les Bleus last time out – his first since the end of an exile from the national team that began in 2015.

In his only previous appearance against Switzerland at the 2014 World Cup, the 33-year-old Real Madrid forward scored twice and supplied an assist in a resounding 5-2 win.

Indeed, this will be the fifth meeting between the teams at a major tournament and France are unbeaten in the previous four, with their most recent encounter at Euro 2016 finishing goalless.

If the identity of a France front three featuring Benzema, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe feels fairly settled, Didier Deschamps' starting formation has become a matter for debate.

 

A report by L'Equipe du Soir claimed a number of players have asked the coaching staff to revert to a 3-4-3 system

Jules Kounde started at right-back against Portugal but is a doubt for Monday's game in Bucharest with a hamstring problem and, while Lucas Hernandez is back in training after a knee complaint forced him off at half-time in the previous match, Lucas Digne (thigh) is out, meaning Deschamps has plenty to ponder whether operating with a back three or a back four.

"They’re a well-structured team and they have good attacking potential with [Haris] Seferovic, [Breel] Embolo and [Xherdan] Shaqiri," the World Cup-winning coach said of Switzerland.

"We must not underestimate them and it's a knockout game so we’ll have to do everything we can to ensure we have smiles on our faces at the end of the match."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

France – Kylian Mbappe

While Benzema is now off and running for the tournament and Griezmann netted the equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Hungary, Mbappe is yet to get off the mark – a state of affairs that surely cannot continue much longer for the Paris Saint-Germain superstar. Mbappe has no goals from eight shots in the tournament with a combined expected goals (xG) value of 1.3.

 

Switzerland – Xherdan Shaqiri

One man who had no problem in front of goal during the final round of group stage matches was Liverpool attacker Shaqiri, upon whom Switzerland will again pin plenty of their hopes. His brace against Turkey made him Switzerland's all-time leading scorer in major tournaments with seven, overtaking Josef Hugi (six).

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Switzerland have reached the knockout stages at each of their past four major tournaments. They were eliminated in their first match following the group stages on each of those previous three instances.
- France have only lost one of their previous 17 matches at the Euros and World Cup combined (W12 D4) – the Euro 2016 final against Portugal.
- Switzerland will face the reigning world champions at a major tournament for the first time. Overall, they have won only three of their 20 matches against reigning world champions (D9 L8), with this their first such match since a 1-1 draw with Italy in June 2010.
- France progressed the ball upfield 18.7 metres per sequence on average during the group stages, the highest figure of any side, highlighting their ability to advance the ball after regaining possession.
- Griezmann has played in each of France's past 51 matches, a run that started on August 31, 2017 against the Netherlands. The Barcelona forward is the only player to make 50+ appearances for a European country since that date.

Presnel Kimpembe has defended team-mate Kylian Mbappe after the forward was criticised by former player Jerome Rothen for putting himself first over the team.

Mbappe failed to score or assist a goal in France's three Euro 2020 group matches, but Les Blues still advanced with draws against Hungary and Portugal after beating Germany.

The Paris Saint-Germain star's eight attempts are the most of any France player in the tournament, but he found the target from just three of those.

Only three players – Gerard Moreno (nine), Burak Yilmaz and Martin Braithwaite (both 10) – had more attempts in the group phase without scoring.

Mbappe is four games without a goal overall, meanwhile, and ex-PSG winger Rothen has suggested the 22-year-old's ego is hindering his performances.

"There's no problem with Mbappe being the leader on the field, but when it goes beyond the field then it annoys me," Rothen, who earned 13 senior caps for France, told RMC Sport.

"I don't think Didier Deschamps can handle it anymore and it is becoming troublesome. It's amazing Kylian is allowed to do so many things. His ego is inordinate and is a problem."

 

Mbappe created three chances in the games against Germany, Hungary and Portugal, which is one fewer than Paul Pogba and three fewer than Antoine Griezmann.

But Kimpembe has no concerns over Mbappe's form and believes it is just a matter of time before he starts scoring goals again.

"There is still a long way to go in the competition," he said at a news conference on Saturday ahead of France's last-16 tie with Switzerland. 

"Scoring will not be a problem for him. He is also there to provide for the rest of the team. He is creating a lot of chances.

"He is not scoring but is playing a part in the team's offensive actions and is happy to help others – that is the most important thing for the team. Above all, the results are most important."

France's entertaining 2-2 draw with Portugal on Wednesday saw them finish top of Group F and set up a meeting with Switzerland in Bucharest on Monday.

Should Les Blues pass their first knockout-round test, they are on course to face either Spain or Croatia – the side they beat in the 2018 World Cup final – in the quarter-finals.

And while France managed just one win in their three group fixtures, Kimpembe was eager to put things into perspective after topping an extremely tough group. 

"To come out on top in the group of death, I'll take that," Kimpembe said. "What would you rather: finish first with a few problems, or second and third with good performances?

"You have to put things into perspective and look at the bright side. The objective was to finish first, which we've achieved. We are very happy about that."

France have now gone two years since their last competitive defeat, which came against Turkey in a European Championship qualifier in June 2019.

Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo provided some of the most enduring images of Euro 2020 when France faced off with Portugal on Wednesday.

Social media was abuzz over the "bromance" between the former Real Madrid team-mates, the pair sharing a cheeky smirk with one another prior to kick-off and then embracing both at half-time and after the final whistle.

The duo both moved to the Santiago Bernabeu at the same time in their careers ahead of the 2009-10 season and enjoyed nine prolific campaigns together before Ronaldo – Madrid's all-time record goalscorer – moved on to Juventus.

Clearly, the respect the two have for one another still runs deep, with Benzema revealing what they discussed after a thrilling 2-2 draw in Budapest, a result which means both teams progress to the last 16.

"It's nice to see him again, we have come a long way together," Benzema told reporters following a game in which he and Ronaldo both scored twice.

"We both played eight or nine years at Real Madrid, we scored goals, won trophies.

"We spoke, we wished each other good luck for the future with our clubs and in the tournament and especially to continue to have fun on the field and continue to make the difference."

Ronaldo has scored five times in the tournament to draw level with Ali Daei's record of 109 international goals. Portugal next face Belgium, while world champions France are up against Switzerland.

Didier Deschamps has concerns over the fitness of defensive duo Lucas Digne and Lucas Hernandez as France get ready to play in a "new competition" at Euro 2020.

France finished top of Group F thanks to a 2-2 draw against fellow qualifiers Portugal on Wednesday, with second-placed Germany also making it through to the last 16.

Reigning world champions France saw Karim Benzema score twice – his first goals at international level since October 8, 2015 – but had to finish the game in Budapest with midfielder Adrien Rabiot playing at left-back.

Deschamps substituted Hernandez at half-time due to what he described as a minor knee issue, though the Bayern Munich player had also received a yellow card in the 36th minute.

Replacement Digne did not last long and, as the France head coach revealed in his post-match news conference, the Everton player could now be ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.

Asked to provide an update on both players, Deschamps told the media: "The most worrying is Lucas Digne.

"He has a muscle injury, he felt a pull behind his thigh. It will be very complicated [for the rest of Euro 2020].

"Lucas Hernandez also had a small problem, his knee reacted a bit. I didn't want to take any risks. Unfortunately in the same game, I lost both. We'll see for Hernandez in the next few days."

 

Deschamps utilised Jules Kounde at right-back in a 4-2-3-1 system, though made clear it is by no means certain he will stick with the formation for their next game, which sees France take on Switzerland in the round of 16.

"It seemed to me to be better disposed on an individual and collective level, but it will not always be that for the future," he said on his tactical approach. "It can be, but it is not a firm and definitive position today."

France finished with five points from their three games. They are unbeaten in each of their last 12 group-stage outings at major international tournaments, winning seven and drawing five.

"Other teams were able to give a better impression than ours," Deschamps said after engineering a path out of a tough group.

"But a new competition will begin. Winning against Germany was very important for us. Having taken a point in a particular context against Hungary, it gave us the qualification before this match.

"As I told the players, there was no math to do except at the end. We did not do everything well, but the state of mind was there, we can still improve things. I am very satisfied to be there once again."

Fernando Santos hailed Portugal's strength of character after they kept their European Championship defence alive with a 2-2 draw against France in Budapest.

Cristiano Ronaldo netted a penalty in each half of the Euro 2020 fixture to move level with Ali Daei as the most prolific international footballer of all time on 109 goals.

When Karim Benzema's second goal of a gripping contest at the Puskas Arena gave world champions France a 2-1 lead two minutes into the second half, Portugal – who suffered a chastening 4-2 defeat to Germany last weekend – were staring at elimination.

But superstar captain Ronaldo induced a handball from Jules Kounde that was punished by whistle-happy referee Mateu Lahoz and stepped up to do the rest.

"What I really liked was the team's collective behaviour," Portugal head coach Santos told reporters afterwards.

"When I was asked what we had to do that was different from the game against Germany, I said it was to be like ourselves.

"We were strong, consistent, with a great spirit. We can continue to improve.

"In the second half we didn't start well but we regrouped."

 

Joao Palhinha was introduced at half-time in place of Danilo Pereira, who suffered a heavy blow to the head when Hugo Lloris fouled him for Ronaldo's first penalty.

Sporting CP midfielder Palhinha did his part in implementing Santos' game plan after Benzema dispatched Paul Pogba's magnificent throughball to ramp up the pressure on the reigning champions.

"The Germany game served as a lesson. The team improved a lot, defending more compactly, managing [the game] better with the ball, and that was reflected today," Palhinha told UEFA.com.

"The coach asked me to be more positional, to be more compact in the middle, and to not give space to the midfielders and [Antoine] Griezmann."

A daunting last-16 assignment awaits against Belgium in Seville on Sunday, with Roberto Martinez's side enjoying two days' extra rest after coasting to three group wins from three games.

"Now we have to think about Belgium, who are tough opponents. If we look at the rankings, they are first. But let's evaluate and realise what we have to do for this match," Santos added.

"Is not at a disadvantage [to have less recovery time. Rest is very important, we have to recover so that they are fresh. We cannot use this as a handicap.

"Let's see if there have been any changes in Belgium, let's analyse the team and prepare for the game with the usual goal: to move forwards."

The final round of group games at Euro 2020 did not disappoint, producing plenty of drama as the final spots in the last 16 were settled.

There were 18 goals scored across the four fixtures – the most on a single day in the history of the European Championships – with Spain putting five past Slovakia to get out of Group E alongside Sweden, who came out on top against Poland thanks to a late, late winner.

In Group F, Hungary threatened an upset but were twice pegged back by Germany in a 2-2 draw, while Portugal and France ended in the same scoreline thanks to record-breaker Cristiano Ronaldo.

Before the focus switches to the knockout stages, Stats Perform reflects on a dramatic conclusion to the round-robin stage.


Slovakia 0-5 Spain: Landmark win comes with a little help

Spain equalled the largest margin of victory in a game at the European Championship, becoming the fifth different side to win by five goals in the competition. The others? France and Denmark in 1984, the Netherlands in 2000 and Sweden in 2004).

It was also a milestone win, Spain's 50th at a major tournament. They are the fourth European nation to reach a half-century, joining Germany, Italy and France.

They were helped out by a Slovakia side that scored not one but two own goals, Martin Dubravka and Juraj Kucka the unfortunate duo to take the tally to eight in this year's tournament. The result means head coach Stefan Tarkovic has suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since taking charge, with this his 12th game at the helm.

Ferran Torres grabbed the fourth goal of the contest with what was his first touch of the game. He scored just 44 seconds after coming on as a substitute – the quickest goal scored by a replacement at a European Championship since fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Valeron in 2004 (39 seconds versus Russia).

Sweden 3-2 Poland: Lewandowski at the double in defeat

Sweden continued their excellent form against Poland – they have won 10 of the past 12 meetings, including six in a row now – thanks in part to a fast start.

Emil Forsberg broke the deadlock after just 81 seconds, the second quickest goal scored from the start of a European Championship fixture. Dmitri Kirichenko holds the record for the fastest, doing so in a mere 65 seconds for Russia against Greece in 2004.

Poland rallied from 2-0 down to draw level thanks to Robert Lewandowski, who made sure he was on target in consecutive major tournament appearances for the first time in his career. He now has 69 goals for his country – the rest of his nation's squad at Euro 2020 have managed a combined total of 34.

However, the Bayern Munich forward will not be able to add to his tally at Euro 2020, with Poland exiting as their winless run was extended to six games. Viktor Claesson grabbed the winner in added time, meaning Sweden scored three in a game at the Euros for the first time since beating Bulgaria 5-0 in 2004.

 

Portugal 2-2 France: Benzema back on target as Ronaldo hits the spot

There were four goals, three penalties, two different scorers and one record broken in an eventful draw in Budapest.

Ronaldo converted both as Portugal became the first team to score two spot-kicks in a single European Championship fixture. The Juventus superstar's double makes him the first player to score as many as five goals in the group stages of a single Euros since Michel Platini (seven in 1984), who is the only individual to have managed more in a single group round.

Talisman Ronaldo also became the first European player in World Cup and European Championship history to score a combined 20 or more goals across the competitions. His tally sits at 21, while he has 109 in his Portugal career, putting him level with Ali Daei as the leading international men's scorer.

His former Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema also grabbed a brace. His first of the game saw him score for France for the first time since October 8, 2015, five years and 258 days ago. It is the longest gap between goals for Les Bleus since current boss Didier Deschamps went seven years between finding the net.

France are now unbeaten in each of their last 12 group-stage outings at major tournaments, with their reward for topping the table being a last-16 clash with Switzerland.

Germany 2-2 Hungary: Goretzka earns Low a little more time

On a night with more ups and downs than a rollercoaster ride, Germany needed a late equaliser to make sure they progressed from the group stage for a seventh time in eight major international tournaments.

Joachim Low's reign appeared set for an unexpectedly early end when they trailed both 1-0 and 2-1 in Munich, with Adam Szalai's opener seeing Germany become one of only four sides to concede first in all three of their group outings, after Turkey, North Macedonia and Poland.

Kai Havertz equalised, in the process becoming the fourth-youngest player to score in back-to-back major tournament appearances for Germany, after Thomas Muller (2010), Franz Beckenbauer (1966) and Lukas Podolski (2006).

There was a first opportunity at Euro 2020 for teenager Jamal Musiala, who became the youngest player to make an appearance for the German national team at a major tournament, aged 18 years and 117 days.

Karim Benzema felt everyone in France was waiting for his return to the international scoresheet after his brace in the 2-2 Euro 2020 draw with holders Portugal.

The world champions sealed top spot as the only undefeated team in Group F after a pulsating encounter in Budapest, where a pair of Cristiano Ronaldo penalties saw the five-time Ballon d'Or winner draw level with Ali Daei as the leading international goalscorer of all time on 109.

Benzema's lengthy exile from France duty means he is nowhere near such dizzying individual numbers, but he levelled from the spot before half-time at the Puskas Arena.

That was goal 28 for Les Bleus, coming almost six years after 27 arrived as part of a double in an October 2015 friendly against Armenia.

The wait for number 29 was nowhere near as long as he latched on to Paul Pobga's sumptuous throughball two minutes into the second half.

"There is a lot of joy, pride, I think everyone was waiting for it," he told beIN Sport.

"There was this pressure on me from all over the country. But I'm a football player, I'm a professional, I need that pressure too. 

"So it's nice to score and to be qualified. For my club, I'm used to scoring, but I wanted to score in this team because I know that goals are very important in this competition."

 

Benzema's goals meant France secured a comparatively favourable last-16 tie against Switzerland, with Portugal having to face the world's number-one rated side Belgium and Germany – who flirted with disaster in a 2-2 draw with Hungary – pouching a Wembley date versus England.

"It was a big game against a great nation. We know Portugal, [they have] a lot of intensity. There were goals and opportunities," the Real Madrid striker said in a separate interview with TF1.

"We tried to play, to get chances and we managed to score two goals. 

"There is all the pressure around me, which is normal but you should never give up. This is what I do, trying to make movements and today it smiled on me but the most important is that we are qualified."

Benzema added: "These are not doubts, but I feel such an expectation from the whole country, which is normal for me after five years of waiting. I will savour it with everyone.

"This is what we need to go to the end. Personally, it warmed my heart and I hope there will be other evenings like this."

Ali Daei congratulated Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo for equalling his long-standing record for international goals.

Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot to move onto 109 goals for defending champions Portugal as they secured passage to the knockout stages of Euro 2020 with a 2-2 draw against France on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Ronaldo now needs just one more goal to surpass Daei, who chalked up his remarkable tally for Iran between 1993 and 2006.

Daei was quick to mark the achievement on social media and predict that he will not jointly hold the record for long.

The 52-year-old wrote on Instagram: "Congratulations to @cristiano who is now one goal away from breaking the men’s international goalscoring record. 

"I am honoured that this remarkable achievement will belong to Ronaldo - great champion of football and caring humanist who inspires and impacts lives throughout the world.

"Vamos!"

Ronaldo's first opportunity to claim the outright lead will come when Portugal contest their last-16 tie on Sunday.

Having finished third behind France and Germany in Group F, Fernando Santos' side will take on Group B winners Belgium in Seville.

Cristiano Ronaldo equalled Ali Daei's all-time international goalscoring record as he held his nerve to haul Portugal to a 2-2 draw with France and into the knockout rounds of Euro 2020.

Ronaldo scored the first of three penalties awarded by Spanish referee Mateu Lahoz at the Puskas Arena, although his old Real Madrid strike partner Karim Benzema levelled from the spot and put the world champions ahead at the start of the second half.

At that stage, the holders were staring at elimination as Les Blues eyed a measure of revenge for their Euro 2016 final defeat, but Ronaldo stepped up again at his country's hour of need when Jules Kounde was penalised for handball.

Having already overhauled Miroslav Klose – whose countrymen Germany flirted with disaster before salvaging a 2-2 draw against Hungary in Munich – to become the leading combined scorer at World Cups and European Championships combined, Ronaldo beat Hugo Lloris again to pull level with the mark set by Iran's Daei – one that has long been in the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's sights.

Paul Pobga unlocked the Portugal defence with a glorious 16th-minute throughball, although Kylian Mbappe's finish was not of the same standard and Rui Patricio saved.

Opposite number Hugo Lloris did not cover himself in glory when he rashly tried to punch Joao Moutinho's free-kick and clattered into Danilo Pereira. The France captain was cautioned and unable to atone as Ronaldo sent him the wrong way from the spot.

He was quickly followed into the book by Antoine Griezmann and Lucas Hernandez as Lahoz placed himself at the centre of the contest, and the official handed France a lifeline as he penalised Nelson Semedo for blocking off Mbappe and Benzema dispatched from 12 yards.

Another delicious Pogba pass completed a swift turnaround, as Benzema got away from Ruben Dias to coolly slot home two minutes into the second half.

Ronaldo almost found an instant response when he met Raphael Guerreiro's and he levelled with an hour played, Lahoz pointing to the spot once more when Kounde handled the Juventus star's delivery.

Pogba remained the game's outstanding player and Rui Patricio clawed out a stunning 25-yard effort from the Manchester United man before springing up to sharply deny Griezmann on the follow-up.

In stoppage time, Lahoz passed up the chance to give the fourth spot-kick of a fairly remarkable personal outing and a VAR check spared Bruno Fernandes for a clumsy challenge on fellow substitute Kingsley Coman.

What does it mean? France top 'group of death' as Portugal and Germany live to fight another day

The value of Benzema's brace was born out in France topping the group as the only undefeated team, earning a comparatively favourable tie against Switzerland in Bucharest. By contrast, Portugal travel to Seville to take on the world's number-one ranked side Belgium and Germany must face England at Wembley.

Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading goalscorer at the World Cup and European Championship combined with his penalty against France.

The Portugal star, who scored twice in the 3-0 win over Hungary on matchday one and then once against Germany, is the first player in history to reach 20 goals across both competitions.

The 36-year-old overtook former Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who managed 19 goals over his career at the two tournaments.

Ronaldo this year became the first player to appear at five different European Championships, having made his tournament debut back in 2004.

He is the leading goalscorer at the event with 13, four more than previous record-holder Michel Platini, and he has made the most appearances at the Euros and World Cup (41).

Ronaldo's goal in Budapest also ended his barren run against France. He had never previously scored against Les Bleus in six appearances, making the world champions the international opponents he had faced most often without netting.

 

Italy legend Filippo Inzaghi has outlined the areas Kylian Mbappe must improve upon if he is to reach Cristiano Ronaldo's level.

Two of world football's biggest names go head to head on Wednesday evening when France face Portugal in the group stages of Euro 2020.

Les Bleus know their place in the knockout stages is already guaranteed but will be out to secure top spot in Group F and a kinder last-16 draw.

Portugal, meanwhile, are at risk of crashing out of the tournament unless they secure at least a point from their meeting with the world champions.

Mbappe and Ronaldo are likely to have a big say for their respective teams but Inzaghi believes one man might find it easier to influence proceedings thanks to his starting position.

"Being the main point of reference up front could be an advantage for Ronaldo, but he could be an easier target for defenders," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Mbappe can look for spaces and sometimes he can hide."

Mbappe is often hailed as a potential successor to Ronaldo - or indeed Lionel Messi, dependent on taste - as the world's best player.

But Inzaghi feels the Frenchman, who has scored 78 goals in 80 Ligue 1 appearances over the last three seasons, is capable of showing a greater killer instinct in the box.

"Ronaldo was unique in the central part of his career at Real Madrid," he added.

"Now Mbappe is in Paris, then we'll see. For now, he doesn't seem attracted by goals as Cristiano is.

"Mbappe's dribbling in tight spaces and his change of pace are stunning. It really looks like he has gears in his legs.

"Even more, it looks easy for him to make the difference, even in one metre. He can be devastating, whether he has space or not.

"However, Cristiano's heading and ability to lose his marker are unreachable, and he is so accurate whether he shoots with his right or left foot. 

"This is something Mbappe still needs to improve."

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