Holders France assured themselves of a quarter-final match-up with Greece after a hard-earned victory over gallant Switzerland in Coimbra ensured they finished above England atop Group B.
Switzerland were in with a chance of a last-eight berth themselves after Johan Vonlanthen had cancelled out Zinédine Zidane's strike inside the first half-hour. Two late Thierry Henry goals finally subdued the battling underdogs to knock them out of the competition.
Switzerland coach Jakob Kuhn sprung a surprise before the game, relegating veteran Stéphane Chapuisat to the bench. With the other main striker Alexander Frei suspended, promising teenager Vonlanthen started up front, with another forward, Daniel Gygax, also making his first tournament start as Kuhn rang the changes.
Jacques Santini made four changes to his XI following the draw against Croatia, with Bixente Lizarazu, Robert Pirès, Willy Sagnol and Claude Makelele coming into the side. France dominated the early possession, but Switzerland broke out from the pressure to create the first dangerous moment, Hakan Yakin prodding an effort wide from a Gygax cross.
Dogged Switzerland kept up their momentum, and Fabien Barthez tipped over a curling Hakan Yakin free-kick before Jörg Stiel went down to save a low Lizarazu drive at the other end. But it was France who broke the deadlock on 20 minutes. Pirès swung over a right-wing corner and Zidane climbed above Stiel to nod the ball in.
Buoyed by the goal, France enjoyed a spell of pressure. Henry headed over when well placed, but Switzerland battled back, and equalised with their first goal of the tournament on 26 minutes. Vonlanthen broke into the area and shot low past Barthez to become – at 18 years and 141 days – the UEFA European Championship's youngest scorer, breaking the record of England's Wayne Rooney set against Switzerland last Thursday.
A fascinating game flowed from end to end, with Switzerland matching the holders punch for punch, although Henry headed just wide near the whistle. The second half began in similar hectic vein. Santini had brought on William Gallas for Sagnol in a bid to fire his stuttering team, but Switzerland continued to knock the holders off of their stride.
Fighting for every ball, the underdogs continued to confound the odds, and a Raphael Wicky cross caused panic in the box before Murat Yakin climbed to nod a Hakan Yakin free-kick just wide. France were finding it hard to create opportunities, but finally replied with a Pirès volley easily held by Stiel.
It was still anybody's match when, with 14 minutes to go, Les Bleus broke through. Henry found space to latch on to a through ball and prod past Stiel and then, with six minutes to play, he added his second and France's third to make sure of quarter-final with Greece on Friday.