The lasting image of the match came in the 65th minute when, with the score at 1-1, French defender Patrick Battiston was put clean through.
Germany keeper Harald Schumacher came charging off his line and made no attempt to play the ball, crashing into Battiston who was carried off and required oxygen in the dressing room before heading to hospital.
That Schumacher did not receive so much as a yellow card remains one of the great World Cup mysteries, but even worse for France was that he became the hero of the penalty shootout.
First-half goals from Pierre Littbarski and Michel Platini left the score at 1-1 after 90 minutes, before the French threw away a two-goal lead in extra time.
Marius Tresor and Giresse struck in the space of 10 minutes to put France within sight of a first World Cup final.
But substitute Karl-Heinz Rummenigge immediately cut the deficit and, 13 minutes from time, a Horst Hrubesch header in the box fell perfectly for Fischer to hook home the equaliser.
For the first time at the World Cup finals, a match would be decided by penalties.
Again France took the initiative as Stielike saw Germany's third penalty saved by Ettori, but seconds later Six drove straight at Schumacher.