Euro 2016 hosts France thrash Iceland to set up Germany semifinal
France 5 - 2 Iceland

Euro 2016 hosts France thrash Iceland to set up Germany semifinal

04/07/2016

France progressed to the Euro 2016 semifinals as they brought an end to Iceland's remarkable tournament with a comprehensive victory at the Stade de France.

Olivier Giroud, Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann were all on target inside the opening 45 minutes as France set up a meeting with 2014 World Cup winners Germany in Marseille on Thursday.

Iceland's Kolbeinn Sigthorsson pulled one back early in the second half before Giroud added his second and, while Birkir Bjarnason added a second for Iceland late on, it was a straightforward victory for the hosts.

Iceland had gone into the game on the back of the greatest result in their history as they eliminated England with a 2-1 win in the previous round and, for a time, the tournament debutants had not looked overawed in Paris.

Gylfi Sigurdsson had the first shot on target and Birkir Bjarnason also sent a shot wide as Les Bleus' defence -- with centre-back Samuel Umtiti winning his first cap -- faced an early examination.

However, their hopes of producing another shock soon dwindled. France, who had not previously scored a first-half goal at the tournament, seized the advantage on 12 minutes: Arsenal striker Giroud fired a shot through Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson's legs after Blaise Matuidi had sent a pass over the top from close to the halfway line.

On 20 minutes, it was 2-0 as Juventus midfielder Pogba scored his first goal at Euro 2016, rising above Jon Dadi Bodvarsson to power in a header from Griezmann's corner.

Iceland still carried a threat on occasion -- Bodvarsson in particular had gone close soon after Pogba's goal, stretching to get onto a flick from a long throw but steering his shot over the top -- yet France's superior quality showed as the match wore on, and the contest was over by the break.

On 43 minutes, Payet scored his third of the tournament, taking a touch after a Griezmann lay-off before drilling an effort past Halldorsson into the bottom corner.

Then, just before the half-time whistle, Griezmann deepened Iceland's gloom as he notched his fourth of the summer, and in some style. Collecting a pass from the defence via a Giroud dummy, the Atletico Madrid forward found himself clean through and produced a perfect chip over Halldorsson to make it 4-0.

Didier Deschamps' side had looked likely to increase their lead after the restart, but Iceland reduced the deficit on 56 minutes when Gylfi Sigurdsson sent in a low cross from the right and Sigthorsson did well to turn it home at the near post.

If Iceland had harboured any thoughts that the goal might prove more than a consolation, they did not last long. Just before the hour mark, Giroud scored his second, heading a Payet free kick into an empty net after Halldorsson found himself in no man's land.

Iceland retained some fight, with substitute Sverrir Ingason bringing a good save from Hugo Lloris on 63 minutes, while they had a penalty appeal for handball waved away shortly afterwards. On 84 minutes, their efforts paid off, with Birkir Bjarnason heading past Lloris from an Ari Skulason cross to make it 5-2.

Ultimately, though, France were able to ease through the second half as focus shifted toward the more substantial challenge of defeating Germany in midweek.

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