France ended Iceland’s fairytale run at Euro 2016 when they crushed the surprise quarterfinalists 5-2 in Paris. Antoine Griezmann sparkled for the hosts to help set up a last-four clash with world champions Germany.
France produced one of the most dominant performances of the tournament on a damp night at the Stade de France, with Olivier Giroud scoring twice and Paul Pogba, Griezmann and Dimitri Payet adding a goal each.
The least-populous nation ever to compete at a major championships, Iceland had won the affection of many neutrals with their rugged style and passionate fans and had stunned England in the last 16.
But they finally came unstuck against a France side that appears to be clicking into top gear at just the right time and will be confident of a second Euro success on home soil after their triumph in 1984.
After rousing renditions of the two nation’s anthems, Iceland had the first shot on target of the match but midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson’s weak effort was easy for home goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Between the legs
France netted their first goal before halftime at the tournament when Olivier Giroud ran on to Blaise Matuidi’s lofted pass in the 12thminute and cracked a shot between the legs of Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson from a tight angle.
It gave Didier Deschamps’ the early lead they craved but things got even better eight minutes later at a French corner.
Antoine Griezmann swung the ball over and Paul Pogba leapt superbly above Jon Dadi Bödvarsson to power a header into the net.
Iceland came close five minutes later from one of captain Aron Gunnarsson’s trademark long throws but Jon Dadi Bödvarsson could only divert his close-range volley over the crossbar under pressure from France debutant Samuel Umtiti.
Bad to worse
Their night went from bad to worse when Dimitiri Payet made it 3-0 in the 43rdminute, firing low into the corner through a crowd of Iceland defenders.
France twisted the knife again two minutes later when Giroud cleverly let the ball run past him and Griezmann raced clear.
The 25-year-old’s wonderful dinked finish over Halldorsson was worthy of Lionel Messi and put the Atletico Madrid forward clear at the top of the tournament scoring chart on four goals.
It was the first time any team has scored four in the first half of a match at a European Championship finals.
Iceland gave themselves a glimmer of hope 11 minutes into the second half when Kolbeinn Sigthorsson poked the ball past Lloris.
But France quickly restored their four-goal advantage when Giroud climbed to head Payet’s free kick past a stranded Halldorsson in the 59thminute.
Iceland refused to capitulate and substitute Sverrir Ingason drew a sensational reaction save from Lloris at a corner four minutes later.
Iceland veteran Eidur Gudjohnsen entered the fray seven minutes from time to make his 88thand almost certainly final appearance for the national team.
The former Chelsea and Barcelona forward was given a rousing reception and moments after his introduction Birkir Bjarnason made it 5-2 when he headed in Ari Skulason’s cross.
It was the last meaningful action of an entertaining encounter and the Iceland players were warmly congratulated by their opponents after another Herculean effort.
They then trooped over to their fans for one final rendition of the chant that has become one of the defining images of the tournament.
As it happened