BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Mario Gavranovic said his dramatic late equaliser for Switzerland against France in Monday’s pulsating Euro 2020 last-16 clash might be one of the most important in the country’s football history.
Gavranovic equalised in the last minute for the Swiss, who were 3-1 down with 15 minutes to go in Bucharest, to send the game into extra time, before they secured a penalty shootout victory.
“It is 100 percent the most important goal of my career. But I also think it's one of the most important goals in the history of the Swiss national team. That makes me very proud," he told reporters on Tuesday as Switzerland headed to St Petersburg where they will meet Spain in their quarter-final on Friday.
The 31-year-old substitute striker tucked away a pass from Granit Xhaka to cap a remarkable fight back. He was also the taker of the first penalty in the shootout, thumping the ball into the roof of the net and setting the tone as the Swiss successfully converted all five of their kicks.
“The coach asked who was feeling good to take a kick. And a few players answered. I immediately said that I wanted to be the first to shoot.”
Gavranovic has been a member of the Swiss squad for the last 10 years, but used mostly as an impact player in his 34 caps.
Monday’s triumph over the world champions was the first time the Swiss advanced to the last eight of the Euros. They had lost in the last 16 at the last two World Cups and at Euro 2016 in France when Poland eliminated them on penalties.
The Swiss have reached the last eight of a major tournament three times before – the World Cups of 1934, 1938 and when they hosted the tournament in 1954.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)