Time was getting on for one o’clock in morning and hundreds of moths were bombarding the spectators when Yann Sommer finally ended this contest by saving Kylian Mbappe’s penalty.
Sommer feigned to go one way, dived to the others and thrust up his left hand to push the ball away.
Mbappe paused briefly in his tracks, hoping for a rescue from the VAR but it did not materialise and the Swiss were already going wild in the corner with their 700 fans.
World champions France are out of Euro 2020 after being beaten by Switzerland on penalties despite leading 3-1 earlier
The Swiss produced a stunning comeback in the final minutes of normal time before winning the shoot-out
Kylian Mbappe missed the decisive penalty as Yann Sommer made the save, with the Swiss winning 5-4 on spot-kicks
It’s the first time Switzerland have beaten France in a competitive game and they will now play Spain in the quarter-final
Mbappe was inconsolable as he walked off the pitch following the shoot-out. The striker didn’t score a goal in the tournament
Mario Gavranovic scored in the 90th minute to take the game to extra-time after he had had a goal ruled out for offside
Switzerland scored all of their penalties with Ruben Vargas sending his past Lloris despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to it
The world champions were out, having won only one of four games. They never truly hit their stride. They struggled with the heat, injuries and a heavy schedule.
In Bucharest, there were moments when they were irresistible. One spell, in fact, when they were sensational. And yet, there were times then when they were an utter shambles.
Vulnerable at the back, out of shape and unable to handle the speed and desire of Switzerland who simply refused to accept defeat. Not when they trailed 3-1 with nine minutes of normal time to play nor when a goal adrift in the 90th minute.
This last-16 tie swung first one way and then then other and, just when that seemed to be that, someone would conjure another flash of brilliance or make a mistake to jolt the game into a new direction.
Perhaps the penalty save by Hugo Lloris or the screamer from Paul Pogba or the breath-taking flash of skill by Karim Benzema, who scored twice.
Or a magnificent header or two by Haris Seferovic or a last-gasp equaliser by Swiss substitute Mario Gavranovic or a fierce drive by Kingsley Coman that rattled the frame of the goal in stoppage time.
Haris Seferovic gave Switzerland a shock lead in the 15th minute when he met Steven Zuber’s cross to head into the net
The striker got above France centre back Clement Lenglet to power his header into the bottom left corner past Hugo Lloris
Benjamin Pavard brought down Steven Zuber in the box and after a VAR check a penalty was awarded to Switzerland
Hugo Lloris saved a 54th minute penalty from Ricardo Rodriguez before France went up the other end to score twice
It seemed as though everyone concerned had made a pact to outdo the stars of Spain and Croatia who produced a thriller in Copenhagen, earlier in the day.
Seferovic uncorked the fun when he headed Switzerland into the lead in the 15th minute, capitalising on France’s unfamiliarity with a new back-three system forced upon Didier Deschamps by an absence of fit left-backs.
Steven Zuber clipped the ball over from the left and Clement Lenglet got himself into a terrible tangle.
He seemed to lose the flight of the ball and his perspective on his man, Seferovic, who sprang up and applied a fabulous finish.
The Swiss striker had to generate all the power, from a standing jump and his aim was true, angling a header just inside the post, agonisingly out of reach for Lloris.
Deschamps abandoned his back-three after less than 45 minutes and Lenglet was hauled off at the break.
Rabiot deployed as an orthodox left-back and Coman came on, although things would get worse before they got better when Zuber skipped past Benjamin Pavard and dashed into the penalty area.
Benzema made it 1-1 less than a minute after the missed penalty as he met Mbappe’s pass to flick the ball over Yann Sommer
The striker made it 2-1 when he headed in at the back post after Sommer had pushed Antoine Griezmann’s cross into the air
Paul Pogba made it 3-1 with a stunning strike from the edge of the box which flew into the top right corner of the net
Seferovic got Switzerland back into the game when he headed in Kevin Mbabu’s perfect cross from the right past Lloris
Gavranovic then stunned the world champions with a strike from the edge of the box which flew into the bottom right corner
Pavard panicked as he tried to recover, slid rashly into a tackle and cut down Zuber. Surprisingly, the Argentinian referee Fernando Rapallini waved play on before advice to check the replay screen from his video assistants.
Rapallini returned to award a penalty to the Swiss. This was their chance of taking a grip on the tie. Could France fight back from 2-0 down? Might this break their spirit?
In fact, it sparked them into life. Lloris made a splendid save, diving low to his right to deny Ricardo Rodriguez from the spot and inspire a spectacular passage of play.
Within three minutes, Benzema levelled. It was an outrageous piece of skill to accept a pass from Mbappe, which arrived a fraction behind him with barely room to move.
Somehow, with a single touch, Benzema hooked the ball into a place where he could find the net with his second touch, clipping a deft shot over Sommer as the goalkeeper slid from his line.
Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic was lifted into the air by his players as they celebrated their superb victory in Romania
It was a different feeling for Didier Deschamps, who will know his side should have closed out the game at 3-1 up
His second was more routine, a poacher’s goal from a few inches after intricate interplay between Mbappe and Antoinne Griezmann, and a save that pushed the ball up for him to nod over the line.
Six minutes after Zuber was sent tumbling by Pavard and four minutes after the penalty save and Switzerland were trailing. Paul Pogba added a delicious third goal, a curling shot from distance into the top corner.
At 3-1, the small cluster of about 1,700 France supporters in a crowd of nearly 24,000 thought it was over. They chanted Pogba’s name and he basked in the acclaim.
The Swiss had other ideas. Seferovic cut the lead to 3-2 with another header and Gavranovic poked in what he thought was an equaliser, only to be find he was offside.
Then Gavranovic beat Lloris again, in the 90th minute, and this time it counted. Coman hit the bar and Olivier Giroud went as close in extra time.
But this was destined to go all the way to penalties. It was settled when Sommer foiled Mbappe. France go home. Switzerland go on to face Spain in a quarter-final in St Petersburg.