France has beaten Iceland in the fourth quarter-final match of the 2016 UEFA European Championship. The host nation beat the minnows by a score of 5-2 in a lopsided match at Stade de France, on Sunday. And so, it’s going to be Germany vs France in the semi-finals.
— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) July 3, 2016
Earlier on Sunday, the French police had to evacuate a restaurant outside the Stade de France, in order to conduct a controlled explosion in a suspicious car, according to ESPN. There were some serious security concerns before the match, but things went on as planned. The match had the presence of top political figures from both countries, including French president, Francois Hollande, and outgoing Iceland president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson.
Security has been tight throughout France for Euro 2016. And it has been made particularly tight outside the Stade de France, where more than 150 people were killed in attacks carried out by ISIS suicide bombers on November 13 of last year. Luckily, the latest concern turned out to be a false alarm, and the match was able to proceed as planned.
Oliver Giroud was the star of the French team, having found the back of the net twice. Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann got their names on the score-sheet too as the French blasted Icelandic defense. Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Birkir Bjarnason scored consolation goals for Iceland, making the final score 5-2. The respectable exit for the Nordic island nation has paved the way for an exhilarating Germany vs France semi-final show-down on July 8.
Having shocked the world by beating one of the Euro 2016 favorites, England, 2-1 in Round of 16, Iceland, a country with a population of less than 350 thousand people, were the true underdogs of the tournament. But they could not answer the attacking prowess of the French, as the match was effectively over by the end of the first half, with the French up by 4-0.
Olivier Giroud raced to latch on a Blaise Matuidi assist and sent a calm finish between the legs of the Iceland goalkeeper, to give the French team their first goal of the match. Soon after the first goal, Manchester United target, Paul Pogba, doubled the score as he powered a header past the Iceland goalie to register his first goal for France in the competition. Dimitri Payet, who has been France’s standout player in Euro 2016, made it 3-0 for the French after scoring a long distant shot. And finally Antoinne Greizman chipped a beautiful goal to make it 4-0 for France before halftime.
— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) July 4, 2016
In the second half, Iceland’s Kolbeinn Sigthorsson poked home from close range to make the score 4-1, and restore some hope in the faltering Icelandic team. However, on-fire Olivier Giroud soon restored the four goal lead for the French with a header. Birkir Bjarnason did score a second goal for Iceland, but the goal came too little, too late as they eventually succumbed to the tournament favorites, for whom the match seemed more like a practice session. But one thing is for sure. It certainly will not not be this easy for France when they face the world champions this week in the Germany vs France semi-final fixture.
Despite having crashed out of Euro 2016, the Iceland team were able to leave with their heads held high. They had received wild support from their fans throughout the tournament, and Sunday’s quarter-final match was no exception, as the fans performed the now famous Viking clap in order to motivate their team. Besides, the Vikings have achieved more than what they had ever expected, having reached this far in the tournament, and the scalp of English from last week, as a souvenir.
“We are disappointed but incredibly proud. It’s been an amazing experience. A lot of hard work has gone into this and the fans have been fantastic.” – The Iceland Captain
The #EURO2016 semi-final lineup is complete!
Who will contest the final? pic.twitter.com/nw7HdavRIS
— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) July 3, 2016
France will now face world champions Germany on July 8 in the tournament’s second semi-final match in Marseille. The world champions are a far better attacking side compared to Iceland, and can hurt the French team’s ambition of winning a third Euro cup for their nation. The winners of the Germany vs France fixture will face either Portugal or Wales in the Euro 2016 final next Sunday.
[Photo by Thibault Camus/AP Images]