Dubai: 14 goals in two games. A ridiculous own goal. Injury time equalisers. Extra time drama. Missed opportunities. And, penalties… There’s no doubt about it - we witnessed the greatest night in European Championship history. It’s hard to know where to begin, there were so many moments each worthy of their own headlines, and if what you read here makes little sense, well, neither did what we saw last night. It was unbelievable.
The earlier kick-off between Spain and Croatia saw the ninth own goal of Euro 2020 - and they just get better with each one. If you thought Dubravka’s mistake for Slovakia was comedy gold, well, it was surpassed when Spain’s Unai Simon allowed a 50-yard back pass from Pedri to slip past his foot and roll into the back of the net. You don’t even see this at schoolboy level anymore let alone in a crucial round of 16 knockout match being watched by millions worldwide. Coach Luis Enrique buried his head into his hands and Simon wished the ground would swallow him up. It is moments like these that can destroy a footballer’s career - but Spain came storming back and took a 3-1 lead. Job done, right? Not by a long way...
Two goals in the last five minutes of a frantic match brought the Croats level and onto extra time it went and that is when Simon redeemed himself by producing a magnificent point blank save to keep the scores level. Then of all people, Morata - having missed several golden opportunities throughout the tournament - found the net with a beauty. I repeat, he found the net. Yes, Morata scored a goal, and then Oyarzabel put some gloss to the score with a fifth. The ref blew for full time and Spain advanced, but it was harsh on Croatia who deserve every drop of praise that comes their way for being part of the most engrossing match of the competition so far. Games like these don’t come along all that often. But, wouldn’t you believe it - it would be surpassed by the very next fixture on this oh so crazy night.
There was hardly any time to catch our breaths after that incredible match as minutes later, tournament favourites France kicked off against Switzerland and this one was loaded more with twists and turns. Seferovic gave the Swiss a deserved lead with a fabulous header and then they had a golden opportunity to double their advantage when they were awarded a second half penalty. But Rodriguez had his effort saved and you just got the feeling that this would come back to bite them - and bite them it did.
Benzema grabbed a quick-fire brace and we were all still talking about his influence back in the French side after six years away when Pogba put the contest beyond any doubt by scoring one of the goals of the tourney from 30 yards. But, unbelievably, at 3-1 down with nine minutes left, it was Switzerland that progressed to the quarterfinals.
They should have been down and out - but they produced a stunning comeback; Seferovic got his second of the night and then Gavranovic had a would-be equalizer ruled out for offside, and yet still it wasn’t over. He struck in the 90th minute to bring it back to 3-3. Back came France deep into injury time and they almost nicked it but Coman’s effort hit the bar. What on earth were we watching? You had to pinch yourself.
On to extra time we went where both sides had chances to win it with Mbappe missing a sitter. He couldn’t believe it and nor could we but it would get worse for the golden boy of football as the match went to penalties. The Swiss kept their composure scoring all of their five meaning Mbappe had to score France’s last kick to take it into sudden death. And wouldn’t you know it - one of the best players in the world right now - saw his effort saved. The much-fancied French were knocked out in what is the biggest shock of the tournament.
As I said – an extraordinary night which made little sense. Who would have thought that the eight-goal thriller earlier would be topped? Nobody. But it turned out to only be the second-most ludicrous game of the night. France going out was a huge upset but that is just half the story. Will nights like this be repeated? Fore sure - it's England against Germany later and that's bound to be a cracker but let's have a moments applause for football, the most thrilling, most unpredictable and easily the greatest sport of them all.