Didier Deschamps shrugs off criticism as France secure favourable last-16 draw with point

 
Ross McLean
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Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba twice hit the crossbar against Swizerland (Source: Getty)

France boss Didier Deschamps rebuffed criticism of a lacklustre showing after Les Bleus snared the point they needed to secure their passage to the last 16 as group winners with a goalless draw against a resilient Switzerland in Lille.

Recalled midfielder Paul Pogba twice struck the woodwork in the first half and substitute Dimitri Payet did likewise in the second, although Switzerland could well have been awarded a last-gasp penalty as Bacary Sagna appeared to impede Blerim Dzemaili.

But a point was enough for tournament hosts France to seal top spot in Group A and therefore play a third-placed team in the last-16, while a runner-up, most likely Poland, lie in wait for the Swiss.

“I am not blind. I realise we are capable of better performances, but a second competition is beginning right now for us,” said Deschamps. “You can criticise the players; I know the players are well aware that we can improve in a number of different areas.”

Albania, meanwhile, boosted their hopes of sealing a place in the knockout phase with a 1-0 win over Romania in Lyon – their first ever win at a major tournament. Defeat saw Romania bow out.

FC Zurich striker Armando Sadiku scored the only goal of the game shortly before half time as he powered a header from Ledian Memushaj’s deep cross beyond stranded Romania goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.

That strike was Albania’s first at a frontline international competition and they must now wait to see whether three points will place them among the four best third-placed teams, although a goal difference of minus two may be detrimental. If Albania do qualify, they will face either the winners of Group B, which contains England, or Group C.