Antoine Griezmann scored twice in four minutes as Euro 2016 hosts France came from behind to claim a 2-1 win over 10-man Republic of Ireland on Sunday.
A rattled defence, some mindless tackling from the likes of N’GoloKante and Adil Rami, leading to both missing the quarter-finals, to go with a largely anonymous performance from the strike force, meant France were the ones with the mountain to climb in the second half.
The Irish were facing an uphill battle and their task was made even more hard in the 66th minute when Shane Duffy was shown the red card for a clumsy, off the ball challenge on Griezmann.
Antoine Griezmann (58th, 61st minutes) struck in quick succession in the second half of the entertaining second round clash after Robbie Brady (2nd) converted from the penalty spot to hand Ireland an early lead.
It was a warning which Ireland failed to heed and France was soon level – Griezmann, who was completely unmarked, headed home Bacary Sagna’s cross to spark scenes of celebration.
Robbie Brady’s penalty for Ireland is the second-fastest goal in the history of European Championship final tournaments.
Republic of Ireland was left blown away and couldn’t recovered from France’s 2nd half display. Ireland almost doubled their lead in the 21 minute when Daryl Murphy saw his half-volley saved by Lloris.
Substitute André-Pierre Gignac hit the crossbar in the latter stages for France, who eventually eased to the 2-1 victory to set up a quarter-final match with either England or Iceland.
“We did react well and we played with lots of enthusiasm from then, but we really had to dig deep to get through this situation”.
Matuidi had a great chance a few minutes later but it was well scrambled by Randolph.
But the French breakthrough was coming and, when it arrived, it did so in devastating style as the Republic’s dreams were torn apart inside eight catastrophic minutes.
He added: “The players could not have put anything more into the game”.
France sought to respond and the in-form Dimitri Payet, restored to the line-up after Deschamps made five changes for the draw against Switzerland, tested Randolph with a free-kick.
“Unlucky Ireland. Superb campaign”. The Atletico Madrid striker slotted a low driving ball past Irish goalkeeper Darren Randolph t0 send Les Bleus.
Didier Deschamps oozed relief afterward. The fans had the team, the players and the coaching staff to be proud of.
“We are disappointed”, Ireland’s Seamus Coleman told ITV.
“When I analyse both qualification and the group that we were put into, then I think the team has done fantastically well, hence my disappointment at not going through today”.
France forward Antoine Griezmann: “We struggled to get into the game and we still have a long way to go, so we will need to improve”.
“The red card was one of those challenges where the lad was probably going to score if Shane didn’t try to make the challenge”. Keane made two appearances during the tournament for the Irish.
The fans have been wonderful in the four games we’ve had and they’ve given the players extra energy throughout the tournament.