France came into the Euro 2016 quarterfinals fixture against Iceland without scoring a single first half goal in their last four matches, but that all changed at Stade de France on Sunday. A ruthless performance from France, who scored four first half goals, and another one in the next 45 minutes, helped them script an impressive win to reach the semifinals of the tournament.
This has to be France's best performance so far in Euro 2016, where all their players contributed in their respective department. Olivier Giroud, who scored a brace, Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann were the goalscorers for France, who will take on Germany in the last four. This 5-2 win over Iceland will give them the much-needed confidence when they face world champions Germany, which is expected to be a cracker contest.
France came all guns blazing in the first half, playing some wonderful football. The hosts took lead in the 12th minute as Giroud found the back of the net with a clinical strike.
Iceland, who also came from a goal down against England in the round of 16, had to come from behind if they were to create history, and reach the semifinals. But, they unfortunately conceded a second goal in the 20th minute, which made matters difficult for Iceland. Paul Pogba helped France double the lead with a leaping header from Griezmann's corner.
Iceland, despite trailing 2-0, were not giving up, and tried to come back, which was not easy against this home team. They came close from Aron Gunnarsson's long throw, but Jon Bodvarsson could not find the back of the net.
Two early goals from France gave their players immense confidence as they began to dominate possession, and play some silky football. They were attacking from both the flanks as well as down the middle, and Payet more or less sealed the game with a third goal in the 43rd minute.
The first half turned out to be a disaster for Iceland as France found their fourth goal. Griezmann scored with a delicate lob over the goalkeeper to please the home fans in the 45th minute.
Iceland started the second half much better, as Kolbeinn Sigthorsson scored in the 56th minute, but France immediately replied back, with Giroud scoring in the 59th minute. The Arsenal striker was substituted after the goal to keep him fresh for the all-important semifinal against Germany.
Though the visitors were trailing 5-1 down, Iceland were still playing some positive football, and even came close to second goal but Ingi Ingason header was saved by Hugo Lloris in the 63rd minute. With the game being end-to-end stuff, the fans, primarily French supporters, were having a great time in the stadium.
France's lack of conentration in the 84th minute helped Iceland's Birkir Bjarnason score their second goal of the match as well. Both teams threatened to score in the last five minutes, but to no avail, as the match ended 5-2. Iceland were good in the second half, but it was impossible for them to comeback after going 4-0 down in the first half.
Though Iceland might have suffered a huge loss to France, they can still go out of the competition with their heads held high. Not only did they finish second in their group in the round robin stages, but also defeated England to show them the exit doors. In fact, Iceland are one of the success stories of Euro 2016.
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