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.
Germany’s semi-final opponents will be decided on Sunday night with hosts France major favourites to eliminate England’s conquerors Iceland in Saint-Denis.
The hosts may head into this game as favourites for this clash, but will be wary of any complacency against the Nordic upstarts. Les Bleus made it through to the last-eight with a 2-1 win over Republic of Ireland, courtesy of a double from Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann.
Ireland’s hopes of a comeback were not helped in the 66th minute dismissal of centre-back Shane Duffy. Les Bleus will be looking for an improvement from an anaemic first half display against Ireland.
The hosts do have a highly credible recent record in international outings, as they have suffered just one defeat in their last 14 games, recording 12 victories in the process.
Their record against Iceland is also a good one. In 11 meetings with the Nordic nation Les Bleus have recorded eight wins and three games have finished in draws.
French boss Didier Deschamps will have to do without centre-back Adil Rami and central midfielder N’Golo Kante, both through suspension. Lyon centre-back Samuel Umtiti is expected to replace Rami, while Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko could come in for Kante.
Iceland head into this clash in high spirits following their extraordinary 2-1 win over England in the round of 16. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring for England from the penalty spot earlier on.
However, goals from defender Ragnar Sigurdsson and striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson put the Nordic nation in dreamland. England pressed for an equaliser, but the Iceland goal never looked under any undue threat and Iceland made it through to set-up this historic clash.
The win over England has been dubbed their biggest ever win in international football and they will be looking to add the scalp of France to that of the Three Lions.
Iceland have undoubtedly been one of the surprise packages at Euro 16 and are unbeaten in their four games in France so far. In fact they are now unbeaten in five outings in all competitions.
Joint-coaches Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson have a fully-fit squad to choose from, as the pair attempt to mastermind another killing of one of European football’s giants.
Day 22 of Euro 2016 saw two giants of European football clash, as Germany defeated Italy for the first time in a major tournament.
The pair drew 1-1 in normal and extra-time, before a penalty shoot-out inevitably led to the world champions recording their sixth consecutive shoot-out victory.
The first half lacked many clear-cut chances. However, substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger had a goal rightfully disallowed after Italian wing-back Mattia De Sciglio. Mario Gomez head over the bar and Thomas Muller also hit an effort straight at Gianluigi Buffon.
At the other end Stefano Sturaro saw a drilled effort deflect off Germany defender Jerome Boateng and go wide of goal.
Thomas Muller saw an effort cleared off the line by Alessandro Florenzi just after the break. Joachim Low’s team took the lead on 65 minutes. Gomez found Jonas Hector down the by-line and the full-backs cut-back deflect off Leonardo Bonucci to Mesut Ozil seven yards out and the Arsenal star produced a half-volley to beat Buffon.
Gomez came close to adding a second soon afterwards but saw a clever back-heel effort saved by Buffon. The German striker was then forced off the field through injury and on 77 minutes the Azzurri equalised.
Florenzi crossed into the Germany penalty area and Jerome Boateng raised both of his hands in the air. The referee pointed to the spot and centre-back Bonucci beat Manuel Neuer with the resulting spot-kick.
On 90 minutes Germany centre-back Mats Hummels tripped Italy striker Eder and earned himself his second yellow card of the campaign, which means he will miss Thursday’s semi-final.
The extra-time produced very little goal mouth action, although Julian Draxler saw an on over-head kick fly just over Buffon’s bar.
Penalties produced rare Germany misses from the spot by Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger, as Muller’s miss ended a run of 22 consecutive penalties scored in shoot-out by Die Mannschaft.
Despite the misses the world champions triumphed 6-5 in the shoot-out. Manchester United full-back Matteo Darmian’s penalty was saved by Neuer and full-back Jonas Hector powerfully fired past Buffon to send the Germans into the last four of the competition.
Joachim Low’s side will either play France or surprise package in that last four clash.