Olivier Giroud scored twice to take his tournament tally to three goals to make sure his nation beat Iceland 5-2 to set up a semi-final clash with Germany.
This was a chance for France to prove themselves to everybody around Europe, with the chance for them to reach their first Semi-Final at a major tournament since 2000, 16 years ago. Meanwhile, this was the most important game in Iceland’s footballing history, with this game being the furthest they have ever got at an international tournament as this was this is their first ever.
Iceland started well in the game, with Swansea City’s Glyfi Sigurdsson getting the ball under control but dragging his shot into the grateful arms of Hugo Lloris. France had a chance to grab themselves the opening goal in the fifth minute when Dmitri Payet exchanged a one-two with Moussa Sissoko on the edge of the area before driving a shot straight at Haldorsson.
France did take the lead just after the tenth minute when Blaise Matuidi played a superb first-time ball over the top to Olivier Giroud, who had broken the offside trap, to lash home past Haldorsson on the half-volley to get his second goal of the tournament and give France the advantage early on.
France were able to double their lead just before the 20th minute when Antoine Griezmann delivered an inswinging corner into the mix of French and Icelandic players, only to see Juventus’ Paul Pogba rose highest to power a header into the top corner. 2-0 France.
France grabbed themselves a third in the 42nd minute when a cross was knocked down by Giroud, with unable to apply the finish, however, the Atlético Madrid man was able to touch the ball down for Payet, who brought the ball onto his left foot before stroking the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.
France weren’t done yet for the first half yet though and got themselves a fourth on the stroke of half time when an Umtiti pass into Giroud was deftly flicked on by the target man, opening up the opportunity for his strike partner Griezmann to race clear and calmly dink the ball over the onrushing Haldorsson. 4-0 to the hosts.
Iceland were able to pull a consolation goal back 10 minutes into the second half when Sigurdsson’s delightful ball across the six-yard box was volleyed home by Sigthorsson.
However, France restored their 4-goal lead when Bjarnsson recieved a booking for a late and dangerous challenge on Giroud. Payet’s delicious 40-yard free-kick, whipped into the box with pace, was nodded in by Giroud to cap off a perfect night. He was then substituted for Gignac straight after to try and rest him for the semi-final.
The next chance fell Iceland’s way in the 62nd minute when Sigurdsson’s corner was met by the head of substitute Ingason and, from point-blank range, Lloris was able to tip the ball over for another corner.
Iceland grabbed themselves another consolation goal seven minutes from time when a Iceland cross was nodded home by the awaiting Bjarnsson at the back post to make the score 5-2 to France.
France forward Olivier Giroud gets my vote for Man Of The Match. Despite not being a link-up man, Giroud linked up perfectly with his team-mates tonight, getting the assist for Griezmann’s goal and bagging two goals alongside that.
France’s triumph over Iceland means that they will face Germany on Thursday night, with the chance of going through to the final next Sunday night.
France: Lloris, Sagna, Koscielny (Mangala 71), Umtiti, Evra, Pogba, Matuidi, Sissoko, Griezmann, Payet (Coman 79), Giroud (Gignac 59).
Iceland: Haldorsson, Saevarsson, Ragnor Sigurdsson, Gudmundsson, Bjarnsson (Ingason 46), Sigthorsson (Gudjohnson 82), Glyfi Sigurdsson, Arnason (Ingason 46), Bodvarsson (Finbogasson 46), Gunarsson, Skulason.