UEFA Euro 2016
Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France
Tournament debutants Iceland were eliminated from the competition after being well-beaten by hosts France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis. The minnows put in a spirited performance but in the end were outclassed by France’s sheer quality as Les Bleus ran out 5-2 winners.
First-half goals from Olivier Giroud, Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann gave Les Bleus a 4-0 lead at the break before Kolbeinn Sigthórsson pulled a goal back for Iceland. Giroud then added his second of the night to score France’s fifth before Birkir Bjarnason reduced the deficit, as the hosts progressed into the first European Championship Semi-final since 2000, where they will play World Champions Germany.
In an evenly contested opening first minute, it was Iceland who had the first sight of goal in the second minute when Gylfi Sigurdsson did well to control the ball in a congested penalty area and create half a yard before firing an effort that Hugo Lloris saved comfortably.
Three minutes later, France went close after some nice intricate play saw Moussa Sissoko find Payet who fired an effort that Hannes Halldórsson saved before gathering at the second-attempt.
Three minutes later, Iceland went close when Sigthórsson flicked on a cross-field pass into Bjarnason who ambitiously volleyed wide.
Four minutes later, France went ahead. Blaise Matuidi found Giroud with a nicely-weighted lofted-pass and the Arsenal striker did well to stay onside before firing home on the bounce past Halldórsson.
Seven minutes later, France doubled their lead when a Griezmann corner was headed home by Pogba.
Five minutes later, Iceland should have pulled a goal back when a trademark Iceland throw-in was headed on by Sigthórsson into Jón Dadi Bödvarsson who volleyed the ball over the bar on the stretch, although he really should have scored. It was almost a perfect replica to the goal they scored against England.
In the 42nd minute, France made it three when Giroud headed a cross into the path of Griezmann who teed up Payet who fired home low into the bottom-corner.
Two minutes later, France got another in quick succession. Griezmann was played through on-goal by Giroud and with just Halldórsson to beat, he chipped the keeper to make it four. The goal was the tournament’s 100th goal and his fourth of the competition.
Iceland started the second-half better than they did in the first-half and their commitment was rewarded with a goal. A dangerous cross from Sigurdsson was fired home on the volley by Sigthórsson who did well to get across Samuel Umtiti at the near-post.
However, France’s four goal margin was restored two minutes later when a Payet delivery from a freekick was headed home by Giroud ahead of Halldórsson who came out and didn’t get the ball.
Two minutes later, Iceland went close to reducing the deficit when a throw-in was flicked-on by Ragnar Sigurdsson into substitute Alfred Finnbogason who volleyed over the bar. Two minutes later, Iceland went close again when an Iceland corner was met by substitute Sverrir Ingi Ingason with a header but he was somehow terrifically denied by Lloris who tipped the effort over the bar from point-blank-range.
In the 83rd minute, Iceland pulled another goal back. A terrific cross from Ari Skúlason was met by Bjarnason who headed home past Lloris.
France had a good chance to extend their lead two minutes later, when a French counter-attack saw Griezmann tee up Sissoko, but he could only fire over the bar.
Iceland had one last chance to reduce the deficit again two minutes later when an Iceland corner was met by Ingason who headed wide with the ball just evading veteran substitute Eiður Guðjohnsen.
The result meant that France progressed into their first European Championship Semi-final since 2000 when they won the tournament and they will play Germany next. Iceland, who despite losing the game, won the hearts of the continent; and bowed out of their first ever tournament with their heads held high after recording their best ever result, departing in the Quarter-final stage.