Euro 2016

Griez's the mann

France's hero Antoine Griezmann (right) celebrates with fellow striker Andre-Pierre Gignac after his brace in the 2-0 semi-final win over Germany fired Les Bleus to the final.
France's hero Antoine Griezmann (right) celebrates with fellow striker Andre-Pierre Gignac after his brace in the 2-0 semi-final win over Germany fired Les Bleus to the final.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Sharpshooter's brace and resilient defending help France end Germany hoodoo

MARSEILLE • It made victory all the sweeter for France that it came against the run of play, against the odds, against the world champions and their frequent nemesis at football tournaments.

The 2-0 win in the Euro 2016 semi-final came against the old enemy, and the hosts' players, staff, supporters and even their country's president Francois Hollande celebrated emotionally on Thursday.

It came against the tide of history, too. The last time France defeated Germany in a competitive game, in 1958, Charles de Gaulle was a prime minister not an airport.

Victory meant everything to Didier Deschamps' side, who were again inspired by Antoine Griezmann, the glittering star of an extended championships that will not be remembered as a classic.

This, though, was a proper encounter, the best of Euro 2016, with Germany dominant, France defiant and Griezmann ruthless.

"It was our duty to win and try and entertain the French people and try and go all the way in this tournament," said Griezmann. "It was a fantastic experience and we hope to live that again in the final."

  • 1958

    France have beaten Germany at a major tournament for the first time since 1958. They have also kept their first major tournament clean sheet against Germany.

    2/3

    Germany have lost four of their last six semi-finals at major tournaments: 2006, 2010, 2012, 2016.

France, who are unbeaten in their last 18 major finals matches on home soil, play Portugal tomorrow - Griezmann versus Cristiano Ronaldo, Atletico versus Real - at Stade de France, where they became champions of the world in 1998 and only a short distance to Parc des Princes, where they were crowned European champions in 1984.

Against Germany, they needed more than Griezmann's goals. They needed some resilient defending from Samuel Umtiti, who made nine clearances, two blocks and one interception on only his second appearance for France.

They needed some selfless, tireless tracking back and tackling from Moussa Sissoko, who operated almost at right-back for a period. They also needed Hugo Lloris to be at his shot-stopping best.

This meant everything to their fans, who supported them passionately throughout, bursting stirringly into La Marseillaise when their team were under almost crushing pressure, especially in the first half when Germany ruled.

Les Bleus withstood the prolonged pressure before benefiting from the award of a controversial penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Griezmann, who had missed a spot-kick for Atletico in May's Champions League final, converted and added a second after the interval.

Deschamps stressed there remains a significant job to be done against Portugal but the manager basked in his team's spirited play.

"I'm delighted for my players because this was a very tough game against a team who made us suffer," he said. "But we suffered together.

"This team has everything that it takes to be loved, and I'm proud of them all. Now there's a trophy up for grabs against Portugal, and that is our target."

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

Correction note: This story has been updated for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2016, with the headline 'Griez's the mann'. Print Edition | Subscribe