Gallant Iceland Sent Packing by France

Hosts France hammered surprise package Iceland in the quarter-finals to make it to the last-four of the competition on home soil.

The 5-2 victory was a highly-convincing one. Didier Deschamps side took the lead on 12 minute. PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi played a ball over the top of the Iceland defence, Arsenal striker Oliver Giroud allowed the ball to bounce before smashing an effort through the legs of Iceland ‘keeper Hannes Halldorsson’s legs.

Les Bleus doubled their lead on 19 minutes. Antoine Griezmann’s corner kick was powerfully headed home by in-demand Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba. Iceland had a chance to half the deficit soon afterwards. Striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson put an effort over the bar from close-range after Kolbeinn Sigthorsson had flicked on an Aron Gunnarsson long throw.

Didier Deschamps team had a third goal on 42 minutes. Paul Pogba crossed to Giroud, who nodded the ball down to West Ham midfielder Dimitri Payet on the edge of the area and the playmaker hit a powerful low effort into the bottom corner of Halldorsson goal.

On the stroke of half time France scored their fourth of the match. Giroud was involved again, as the big striker dummied a Pogba through-ball to allow Antoine Griezmann in on goal. The Atletico Madrid star advanced on goal and coolly chipped the ball over the outrushing Halldorsson.

The goal was Griezmann’s fourth of the competition and installed him as favourite for the coveted golden boot award.

Iceland made two changes at half-time and came out in far more determined mood. Their brighter start saw the Nordic nation get a goal back on 56 minutes. Swansea playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson played a fantastic cross into the box and striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson poked the ball past Hugo Lloris at his near post.

A minute before the hour mark France found the net for the fifth time. Dimitri Payet played a free-kick into the area, only Halldorsson to rush out of his goal into no-man’s land and Giroud headed the ball into an unguarded net.

The striker was then substituted to save him from picking up a yellow card that would have ruled him out of the semi-finals. France ‘keeper Lloris was a by stander for much of the game, but produced a stunning save from a close-range effort by substitute Sverrir Ingason.

Iceland did get a second goal on 84 minutes though. Ari Freyr Skulason crossed from the wing and midfielder Birkir Bjarnason headed home powerfully while unmarked.

In the end though, it was a comfortable win for the home nation. Iceland will have been disappointed with the result, but their team have made history and fantastic memories following wins over Austria and England at Euro 2016.

France will now face world champions Germany on Thursday night for the right to play in Sunday night’s final.

Tonight’s display illustrated that Deschamps team can be majestic when on form. Les Bleus will have both defender Adil Rami and defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante back from suspension. As hosts they will not want their journey in the competition to stop in the semi-finals and may even go into the clash as favourites to make the final against a Germany side that could be severely under-strength in the last-four clash.

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