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Five-star France put plucky Iceland to bed and complete Euro semis line-up

Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | July 3, 2016

France 5-2 Iceland

  • Rami and Kante serve suspensions for tournament hosts
  • Barcelona-bound Umtiti makes international debut for Deschamps
  • Giroud scores 12th minute opener for French
  • Pogba doubles lead with header from Griezmann corner
  • Payet places in third goal for France
  • Griezmann also among goals before half-time
  • Sigthorsson scores second-half Iceland consolation
  • Giroud heads in another for France from Payet free-kick
  • Bjarnason scores last of seven goals to equal Euros finals record

French connections emphatically end Iceland

EURO 2016 - Quarter final France vs Iceland

The ultimate underdogs from Iceland have been put down, despite maintaining their record of scoring in every tournament international.

Neutrals won’t like it, but hosts France outclassed the plucky Nordic nation in the last Euro 2016 quarter-final thanks to first-half goals from Olivier Giroud, Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann.

Giroud struck again after the break between Iceland consolations courtesy of Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Birkir Bjarnason.

Les Bleus did their initial damage in the opening 20 minutes, then struck twice again before half-time to set up a mouthwatering semi showdown with Germany – ironically the last side to beat Didier Deschamps’ men in a competitive international.

Enforced changes for hosts a non-event

Soccer Euro 2016 France Iceland

Bans for N’Golo Kante and Adil Rami meant the French spine had to be changed, with Moussa Sissoko and more importantly Barcelona-bound debutant Samuel Umtiti starting in midfield and defence respectively.

Such alterations mattered little because of a complete first-half display that was dispelled delusions of grandeur anyone held about Iceland, and allowed Les Bleus to set a new record for most goals in 45 minutes of a European Championship finals game.

No wiser to the perils of the Aron Gunnarrson long throw than England were in their embarrassing last 16 defeat, Gylfi Sigurdsson drew the first save of the night from former Spurs teammate and French skipper Hugo Lloris early on.

Giroud and Pogba on scoresheet in opening 20

France then fired a warning shot from Payet before breaking the deadlock a dozen minutes in, when Blaise Matuidi’s through-ball found Giroud – adjudged onside in the left channel. He slotted in past Hannes Thor Halldorsson.

It was two for Les Bleus before the first quarter was done, with Euro 2016 poster boy Pogba rising highest at the back post to nod in Griezmann’s right-wing corner. Iceland’s zonal marking failed them here.

Yet this occasion would not pass the Nordic nation by without opportunities of their own. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson blazed over when strike partner Sigthorsson flicked on another Gunnarsson long throw.

Payet and Griezmann goals follow

Iceland fell further behind because of a couple more quick-fire goals as half-time loomed. Payet fired his low, precise shot in when Giroud knocked down a Bacary Sagna cross up from right back into the path of Griezmann, who teed up the West Ham United star to pick his spot.

Atletico Madrid attacker Griezmann then went from provider to scorer, with Arsenal target man Giroud flicked a straight ball through to his strike partner.

Griezmann duly chipped the keeper for his fourth tournament goal and France went in as many to the good, having well and truly broken Nordic resistance.

Iceland on target in second-half

Payet lashed another effort over after the interval with Icelandic tactical changes doing little to alter the established pattern of play.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson of Charlton Athletic wasted a glimmer of Les Bleus’ goal, blasting high, wide and handsomely over the bar, but Sigthorsson made no mistake 10 minutes into the second-half.

Getting free of his marker to turn in Sigurdsson’s near-post centre, Nantes striker Sigthorsson would only net a consolation because Les Bleus weren’t done scoring themselves.

Goal glut continues

Payet’s swerving free-kick found Giroud to head home his second with his last action before being substituted by Descahmps, who no doubt had the semis in mind.

Lloris still had to be alert to tip over from Iceland substitute Sverrir Ingi Ingason, while Giroud replacement Andre-Pierre Gignac spurned a counterattack chance to extend the massive French lead.

Bjarnason got a second for the Nordic nation with little more than five minutes remaining and following a defensive change by Deschamps, netting at the back post from Ari Freyr Skulason’s left-wing cross.

A 5-2 final result matches the most goals ever scored in a Euros finals game – the other being Netherlands 6-1 FR Yugoslavia from the 2000 edition.

Les Bleus set for World Cup rematch

France march on to battle with neighbours and rivals Die Mannschaft, though the Germans are still rated more likely to lift Euro 2016 by Coral at 13/8 than Les Bleus, who have been cut into 2/1 from 13/5 for the tournament.

A repeat of the 2014 World Cup quarter-final, which was a game that came too early for Pogba and company two year ago; the big question is can the French fare better on home soil against the Germans than they did in Brazil?

Soccer Euro 2016 France Iceland

It seems fitting, however, to leave the last word to losers Iceland, who have a been a breath of fresh North Atlantic and Arctic air on their Euros debut.

Leggy and tired by their incredible run, it is how the Nordic nation could change English football in the coming weeks and months that may be their most telling contribution.

Related

There’s wall-to-wall Euro 2016 coverage in Coral’s dedicated section.

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