Euro 2016 round up: France 5 Iceland 2 - and what the result means

Olivier Giroud (right) of France scores during the Uefa Euro 2016 quarter final match between France and Iceland.
Olivier Giroud (right) of France scores during the Uefa Euro 2016 quarter final match between France and Iceland.PHOTO: EPA

Paris lived up to its reputation as the City of Light on Sunday.

Les Bleus put in their brightest performance of Euro 2016 at the Stade de France, scorching Iceland with first-half goals from Olivier Giroud, Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann.

Kolbeinn Sigthorsson got one back for Iceland in the 56th minute, stabbing the ball past Hugo Lloris at the near post. Giroud, however, immediately restored the four-goal margin by heading home Payet's free kick.

But in true Icelandic fashion, the underdogs never gave up. Birkir Bjarnason headed past Hugo Lloris in the 84th minute to ensure that they won the second half.

Despite this quarter-final loss, the entire Iceland squad have proven to be a beacon of hope for world sport.

 

It took the hosts, the pre-tournament favourites and the collective will of a 66 million-strong population to see off the plucky Icelanders.

The major tournament debutants' fairytale may have ended, but they have produced one of the best stories of Euro 2016.

They made plenty of history in France. The smallest nation to feature at the European Championship defeated England 2-1 in the last 16 for their biggest ever win.

Yet another record arguably contributed to their ultimate downfall. On Sunday, Iceland became the first team to name an unchanged starting XI in their opening five games of a European Championship.

Having averaged just 35 per cent of possession - the lowest of the 24 teams at Euro 2016 - leading up to the France clash, Iceland had already covered plenty of ground chasing the ball.

A fifth game in 21 days proved too much. Still, there can only be glowing praise for this brave Iceland team.

Match highlights

- In the 12th minute, a ball over the top from Blaise Matuidi found Giroud on the left side of the penalty box. He allowed the ball to run across him before firing a first-time shot through the legs of Hannes Halldorsson.

- Eight minutes later, France doubled their lead. Griezmann's inswinging corner was headed home by Pogba. The midfielder outjumped Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and beat Halldorsson at the near post. Defender Bikir Saevaarsson, the man on the post, had no chance of clearing the ball off the line.

- In the 25th minute, a long throw by Aron Gunnarsson was flicked on for Bodvarsson. He stretched as he shot and his effort was off target.

- In the 43rd minute, Griezmann registered another assist. He teed up Payet, whose low left-footed strike found the bottom right corner from 20 yards out.

- At the stroke of half-time, Griezmann got his name on the scoresheet to lead the race for the Golden Boot after pouncing on Giroud's flick on. The forward's fourth goal of the tournament was a chip over the onrushing Halldorsson from a one-on-one situation.

- In the 56th minute, Iceland reduced the deficit. Gylfi Sigurdsson's cross was poked home by Sigthorsson at the near post.

- Three minutes later, Giroud attacked Payet's free kick and his header sailed past Halldorsson, who came up to punch but missed the ball.

- In the 63rd minute, France captain Lloris pulled off a point-blank save. Johann Gudmundsson's corner kick was met by the head of substitute Sverrir Ingason but Lloris turned the header away.

- A minute later, Iceland appealed for a penalty for a handball. The referee waved play on and France counter-attacked. Substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac's shot was blocked.

- In the 84th minute, Bjarnason headed Ari Skulason's cross past Lloris.

The talking point

Is there a dream too big for a small nation? Iceland's participation at Euro 2016 may be over, but they will not be forgotten. They will be a reference point for years to come.

A tiny talent pool? They have a population of 330,00. Poor conditions to play sport? They have pitches that are frozen for six months of the year so they built indoor ones instead. No professional clubs? They qualified for the European Championship anyway - and made the quarter-finals.

Man of the Match

Giroud. He might have been substituted after 60 minutes, but his brace was enough to make him the star of the night. It was his well-taken opener that opened the floodgates, and he also provided an assist for Griezmann. No French player had delivered two goals and an assist in a European Championship game before.

What the result means

France will face world champions Germany on Thursday for a place in the final. Les Bleus have reached the last four for the first time since 2000, when they went on to lift the Henri Delaunay trophy.

Iceland boss Lars Lagerback is set to retire but there will be continuity as co-manager Heimir Hallgrimsson will take sole charge of the team. The 49-year-old's next task is to help the Nordic nation qualify for their first World Cup finals. They begin their 2018 qualifying campaign against Turkey in October. Croatia, Ukraine, Finland, and Kosovo complete their group.

Key statistic

France are the first team to score four goals in the first half of a European Championship game.

What they said

France manager Didier Deschamps: "I'm delighted every time my team win. It's never easy. We did what we needed to in the first half. We relaxed a little bit and made some substitutions, that doesn't help things."

Gylfi Sigurdsson: "We were disappointed with the first half but France deserved the win. We are very proud. It's been a fantastic tournament and something special for a small team. We have probably overachieved and done something that nobody expected us to do."

Iceland forward Eidur Gudjohnsen tweeted: "We lived the dream....but all dreams come to an end! (France) were too strong for us tonight."