France striker, Kylian Mbappe, has apologised for missing the crucial penalty in his nation’s shootout defeat by Switzerland, which saw them crash out at the last-16 stage of Euro 2020 in a shocking fashion.
Mbappe, who failed to score a goal during the entirety of the tournament, stepped up to take the fifth spot-kick with the underdogs having converted all of theirs, but his strike was parried away by Yann Sommer.
With Switzerland’s players wildly celebrating around him, Mbappe cut an isolated figure as he walks off the field, and he later took to social media to express his ‘immense’ sadness to supporters.
‘Very difficult to turn the page,” he wrote. “The sadness is immense after this elimination, we could not reach our goal.
“I’m sorry for this penalty. I wanted to help the team but failed.
“Finding sleep will be difficult but unfortunately, it is the ups and downs of this sport that I love so much.
“I know you fans have been disappointed, but I still want to thank you for your support and for always believing in us.
“The most important thing will be to get up even stronger for the next upcoming deadlines. Congratulations and good luck to Switzerland.”
The clash in Bucharest ebbed and flowed superbly, arguably making it one of the greatest ever European Championship ties, and France were the architects of their own downfall after letting a 3-1 lead slip.
Haris Seferovic nodded home the opener, before Ricardo Rodriguez’s second-half penalty following a clumsy tackle from Benjamin Pavard was kept out by Hugo Lloris in a major reprieve.
After the restart, world champions France drastically improved and then pulled ahead with Karim Benzema scoring twice and Paul Pogba finding the top corner with a jaw-dropping effort from distance.
Switzerland hit back, however, after Seferovic glanced in his second and substitute Mario Gavranovic fired beyond Lloris from the edge of the area on the stroke of 90 minutes to force extra-time.
Mbappe’s team-mates have since looked to rally around the dejected superstar after his miss, and all-time great Pele has also shared his support.
“Keep your head up, Kylian! Tomorrow is the first day of a new journey, @KMbappe” >@KMbappe,” Pele wrote on Twitter, shortly after the full-time whistle.
Captain Lloris, meanwhile, insisted in his interview that all of France’s players must take responsibility for their elimination, and refused to single out Mbappe as the sole reason behind the result.
“We win together, we lose together,” Lloris said. “We are all responsible for being eliminated at this stage of the competition. There are no pointing fingers. We had to deal with injuries, but we have no right to make excuses.
‘We gave everything, we left it all out on the pitch. Penalties are a lottery. We did not have the luck. We will now need to manage the pain. At 3-1 we should have been able to close the match out.”
Raphael Varane pointed to France’s chances to secure the victory in extra-time, and also pinned no blame on Mbappe.
“It’s hugely disappointing,” he told TF1. “We completely messed up our first half. We reacted in the second half but then left them space and they came back.
“Penalties are a lottery. We could have scored in extra time as we had the chance to do that. It will be calm in the dressing room and we’ll focus on our next objectives.”