Ireland miss out on France redemption as Griezmann inspires hosts’ comeback win
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | June 26, 2016
France 2-1 Republic of Ireland
- Brady converted second min penalty after Pogba fouled Long
- Randolph and Lloris were tested in action-packed first-half
- Kante and Rami picked up cards to rule them out of quarters
- Griezmann finally scored past Randolph after heading home
- Atletico forward added another minutes later following defensive mix-up
- Last man Duffy sent off after fouling Griezmann
- France will now face England or Iceland in quarters
France edge through after second-half Irish meltdown
After three admittedly dull Euro 2016 last 16 encounters on Saturday, an early Republic of Ireland goal from a penalty against France provided a highly entertaining affair at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
The hosts eventually gained a 2-1 victory to wash away the Boys in Green’s hopes of getting redemption for their infamous 2010 World Cup play-off loss just under seven years ago, in which Thierry Henry handballed on the way to setting up a winner.
Robbie Brady, who headed home late on against Italy in their final Group E game to send them through to the knockout rounds, opened the scoring from the spot, but Antoine Griezmann struck twice in the second-half to help the hosts through to the quarter-finals.
Shane Duffy saw red after fouling the attacker, while N’Golo Kante and Adil Rami are both suspended for a meeting with either England or Iceland by picking up yellow cards.
Brady spot on to give Irish early lead
It only took a minute until the Boys in Green were handed a penalty, as Paul Pogba, who perhaps had his mind on other things with all the transfer talk surrounding him, downed Shane Long in the box, and goal hero against Italy Brady was the man to step up.
The left-sided Norwich City player found the net, but hearts were in Irish mouths for a split second as it went in off the post past Hugo Lloris.
France’s key man this tournament so far Dimitri Payet had an opportunity to increase his Euro 2016 tally to three in the eighth minute after taking a free-kick right on the edge of the area. However, his effort was straight at the keeper.
Pogba soon sparked into life, and he nearly made amends for his blatant foul on Brady by sending in a fine cross to Griezmann, who headed over the bar.
The superstar forward, who recently signed a new deal with Spanish club Atletico Madrid, soon turned provider too, but his delivery was crucially headed on for a corner by Shane Duffy when Olivier Giroud was ready to pounce.
Randolph on top form in first-half
Ireland keeper Darren Randolph was certainly busy early on, after Payet sent in another free-kick, this time that was met on the head by of Greizmann. Again, though, the West Ham United stopper was able to catch it with ease.
At the other end, Daryl Murphy forced Lloris into an outstretched save after a brilliant strike, but Jeff Hendrick was unable to get any power on the rebound.
France had further chances to equalise before the half-hour, most notably from a top corner-bound free-kick by Pogba, that Randolph was well-positioned to save.
Leicester City star Kante picked up a slightly harsh booking after putting out a leg on James McClean, meaning he will miss the next match.
Just before the break, Duffy came close to doubling his side’s lead as he out-jumped the French defenders to head just wide of the post.
Kante and Rami ruled out of next international
France suffered another hit, after Rami added worry to an already depleted defence by picking up a card for a foul on Long to rule him out of the quarters too.
But that didn’t seem to dampen Les Bleus’ spirit as they kept on attacking, and came close to finding the net through Payet’s tricky play. The Hammers star was unable to find a way through, however.
Didier Deschamps’ men started on the front foot in the second-half, and once again Payet provided his side a chance from a free-kick. This time Pogba nodded on for Laurent Koscielny, who couldn’t find the net from a header.
The tournament hosts kept pressing, and in the 56th minute Blaise Matuidi forced Randolph into his first testing save, after striking well from long range. Randolph was able to palm it away, though.
Griezmann finally breaks Irish defence
But just moments later, it was Griezmann who was able to finally get past the inspired stopper, after heading home from a brilliant cross from Bacary Sagna from the right-hand side of the pitch.
Stephen Ward threatened to give Ireland an immediate reply, but had his effort deflected wide, that the referee didn’t spot and so awarded a goal-kick.
Griezmann clearly by now worked out the Boys in Green’s defence, and put his side ahead after an hour on the clock after a mix-up between Duffy and Richard Keogh allowed the forward to slot home unchallenged.
Ireland kept fighting, though, and McClean broke free down the left-hand side, though couldn’t find a teammate in the box.
The British Isles nation were left to rue that opportunity as, at the other end of the pitch, hat-trick chasing Griezmann was through on goal but was fouled by Duffy on the edge of the box.
Boys in Green capitulate as Duffy sees red
Being the last defender, the Blackburn Rovers centre back was given a straight red card, though perhaps ultimately saved his side going 3-1 down at this stage.
Martin O’Neill’s men were now just seemingly hoping to steady the ship as much as they could, as it was all France on the attack. Griezmann had another chance to score, while substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac hit the bar with a great effort with under 15 minutes to go.
Ireland were able to prevent France from scoring more, although Tigres UANL striker Gignac came close a couple of times to net his first of the tournament, and Griezmann was denied a treble again.
The win ensures that Les Bleus reach the quarters, where a showdown with old rivals England looms if the Three Lions beat Iceland on Monday evening, and they remain the tournament favourites at 7/2 with Coral.