Sweet draw for Swiss as hosts se­cure safe pas­sage

The Herald - Herald Sport - - EURO 2016 - HUGO LOPEZ

FRANCE sit atop Group A this morn­ing de­spite be­ing held to a 0-0 draw by Switzer­land – who also qual­i­fied for the last 16 – in Lille.

The hosts were left frus­trated af­ter Dim­itri Payet and Paul Pogba hit the wood­work and goal­keeper Yann Som­mer de­nied An­toine Griez­mann.

Well-drilled Switzer­land strug­gled to cre­ate and never se­ri­ously tested Hugo Lloris in the France goal but got the point they needed to bag a spot in the sec­ond round.

Payet, who had scored in both of France’s pre­vi­ous games, and N’Golo Kante were benched by man­ager Di­dier Deschamps with the team hav­ing al­ready qual­i­fied from the group.

With­out the key pair the hosts be­gan ner­vously and Pogba al­most scored an own goal when he sliced Xher­dan Shaqiri’s 10th-minute cor­ner in the area.

But, two min­utes later, he came close to the opener at the right end when Som­mer spilled his ef­fort on to the top of the bar.

Ju­ven­tus mid­fielder Pogba was at the heart of France’s early at­tack­ing ef­forts and Som­mer de­nied him again when he su­perbly turned away his drive.

Pogba con­tin­ued his one-man as­sault in the 17th minute and his 25-yard shot clipped the bar but, de­spite dom­i­nat­ing much of the half, France failed to net.

Pogba’s four shots in the open­ing 17 min­utes were as many as he had had in France’s open­ing two games as he ram­paged for­ward.

An­dre-Pierre Gignac forced Som­mer into a low save seven min­utes af­ter the break and then the ball had to be re­placed af­ter it burst fol­low­ing Valon Behrami’s tackle on Griez­mann.

Atletico Madrid for­ward Griez­mann’s shot was par­ried over soon af­ter fol­low­ing a neat one-two with Gignac with Switzer­land strug­gling to of­fer any at­tack­ing threat of their own.

Stoke mid­fielder Shaqiri tried and failed to find a way through France but re­silient Switzer­land con­tin­ued to bat­tle away and de­served a point, although they sur­vived a scare with 15 min­utes re­main­ing.

In-form Payet, a for­mer Lille player, had been brought on with 27 min­utes left as France chased the opener and the West Ham man al­most grabbed it.

Moussa Sis­soko’s barn­storm­ing run down the right ended with the New­cas­tle mid­fielder cross­ing for Payet – only for his stun­ning first-time vol­ley to crash off the un­der­side of the bar.

The 29-year-old then sliced wide with time run­ning out and his late free-kick hit team-mate Blaise Ma­tu­idi in the wall.

And Switzer­land were de­nied a penalty in in­jury time when Blerim Dze­maili was tugged in the area by Bacary Sagna as the sides set­tled for a point.

LIFT OFF: France’s Adil Rami, right, at­tempts a shot on goal, but there would be no way past for ei­ther side

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