ROUND OF 16
LYON • France coach Didier Deschamps said his team get better when they "go a bit crazy" after they came from a goal down to beat Ireland 2-1 yesterday to move into the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.
The hosts got the worst possible start when Irish striker Shane Long was fouled by Paul Pogba to give Ireland a penalty after just 90 seconds. It was converted by Robbie Brady.
But two goals from Antoine Griezmann in a vastly improved second-half performance proved decisive at the Stade de Lyon.
"I'm really happy to have qualified. We struggled to get into the game and we still have a long way to go, so we'll need to improve. But we're going to enjoy this and make the most of it," he said.
"I hope to be able to continue in this vein and to help the team. We gave everything in the second half and you saw a different side to France."
Deschamps agreed that the start had not been ideal.
"Sometimes it's difficult. When you concede a penalty at the start of a match, it made us tense and the Irish can play a bit," he told TF1.
He said the three tight last-16 matches on Saturday, two of which went to extra time, showed there are no easy games in the tournament.
"It was hard for us too, but mission accomplished," he said. "You shouldn't be too calculated. The players need discipline but sometimes we're better when we go a bit crazy.
"We really sped things up and that's when we are most dangerous."
France will play the winner of tonight's match between England and Iceland in a quarter-final at the Stade de France next Sunday.
Ireland's problems were compounded by playing the last 25 minutes with 10 men.
Centre-back Shane Duffy was sent off on 66 minutes for bringing down Griezmann, who was through on goal.
France's win came at a cost, however, as both midfielder N'Golo Kante and defender Adil Rami will be suspended for the quarter-final after picking up bookings.
A long ball caused the French all manner of problems early in the game and when Southampton striker Long tried to turn and shoot, Pogba made contact.
With 70 seconds played, referee Nicola Rizzoli pointed at the spot .
Brady was again the darling of the travelling Green Army as the Norwich winger sent Hugo Lloris the wrong way from the spot.
The hosts responded by laying siege to the Irish goal.
Only Irish determination, and a lack of a final touch, prevented Griezmann from finishing with a hat-trick.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN