France put up a commanding first half performance to see off minnows Iceland to qualify for the semifinals of Euro 2016.
There was so much to admire in the rewards taken up to the interval. Matuidi’s wonderfully arced pass, eased over Birkir Saevarsson and beyond Kari Arnason from the halfway line, had set the tone. Giroud trundled on to the delivery and belted through Hannes Halldorsson’s legs to give his team a 1-0 lead. On 20 minutes, it was 2-0 as Juventus midfielder Pogba scored his first goal at Euro 2016, rising above Jon Dadi Bodvarsson to power in a header from Griezmann’s corner.Bacary Sagna crossed, Giroud knocked down and Griezmann laid off, Payet spitting away an accurate left-foot shot to register his third goal of the tournament to make it 3-0. Just before the interval it was Pogba sliding a pass from deep, Giroud confusing a shattered Icelandic back-line with a stepover, and there was Antoine Griezmann skipping away from Arnason and Ragnar Sigurdsson before lobbing the goalkeeper to make it 4-0.
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Didier Deschamps’ side had looked likely to increase their lead after the restart, but Iceland reduced the deficit on 56 minutes when Gylfi Sigurdsson sent in a low cross from the right and Sigthorsson did well to turn it home at the near post.If Iceland had harboured any thoughts that the goal might prove more than a consolation, they did not last long. Just before the hour mark, Giroud scored his second, heading a Payet free kick into an empty net after Halldorsson found himself in no man’s land.
Iceland retained some fight, with substitute Sverrir Ingason bringing a good save from Hugo Lloris on 63 minutes, while they had a penalty appeal for handball waved away shortly afterwards. On 84 minutes, their efforts paid off, with Birkir Bjarnason heading past Lloris from an Ari Skulason cross to make it 5-2.
At least Iceland could depart with the game’s last goal. They have been magnificent at these finals but it is the French who can sense real reward.