France avoided a major upset in their Round of 16 encounter against 10-man Ireland, as an Antoine Griezmann brace helped them clinch a 2-1 victory against Republic of Ireland in a high-intensity football encounter of the UEFA Euro 2016 at Lyon.
Ireland needed just 3 minutes to take the lead, as Robbie Brady converted a penalty which was won by Shane Long after he was fouled by Paul Pogba inside the box.
Ireland defended heroically for 55 minutes, but their resistance was finally broken when Griezmann’s header from a Bacary Sagna cross beat goalkeeper Darren Randolph at the far post. They went in front three minutes later, as Griezmann took advantage of an accurate knockdown by Olivier Giroud to confidently shoot past Randolph and break Irish hearts.
The task got tougher for Ireland in the 68th minute when defender Shane Duffy was sent off for denying Griezmann an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Though they rallied hard at the end, France hung on to seal their quarter-final berth against either England or Iceland.
Here are some of the talking points from an eye-catching game at Lyon:
#1 Should Ireland’s penalty have been given?
The drama unfolded barely seconds after kick-off when Irish forward Shane Long appeared to have been tripped by Paul Pogba in the French penalty box. Referee Nicola Rizzoli promptly pointed to the spot. The spot-kick was successfully converted by Robbie Brady to give Ireland an unexpected lead against the host nation.
However, replays seemed to suggest that Long went down too easily upon feeling contact from Pogba. It looked as if Long was looking for a challenge from Pogba and sensed his opportunity to win the penalty, which he eventually did. There will definitely be a division in opinion as to whether it was a spot-kick or not, but from the referee’s angle, one could understand why he had given it as it looked like a genuine foul by Pogba. However, replays didn’t exactly agree with that decision.