Euro 2016: Record-breaking Griezmann brace gives France comeback win over Ireland
France produced a stunning 2-1 comeback win over Ireland in the 2016 UEFA Euro Round-of-16 tie, with Antoine Griezmann’s second-half brace enough to space the French blushes after Robbie Brady had given the Irish a shock lead in the 2nd minute. France are through to the quarterfinals, where they will face either England or Iceland.
France: Lloris; Sagna, Rami, Koscielny, Evra; Kante, Matuidi, Pogba; Payet, Griezmann, Giroud.
Rep. of Ireland: Randolph; Coleman, Duffy, Keogh, Ward; Hendrick, McClean, McCarthy, Brady; Murphy; Long.
France were heavy favourites going into the game, but Ireland had plenty of motivation as well, with memories of Thierry Henry’s infamous handball that denied them qualification to the 2010 FIFA World Cup still fresh after so many years. The Irish responded to that motivation, right from the off, earning a penalty in the opening stages off the game to stun the crowd in Lyon.
Pogba clattered into Robbie Brady from behind, and pleaded his innocence with the referee, to no avail. Brady stepped up and sent Lloris the wrong way, striking an unsaveable penalty that crashed off the inside of the right post and into the net, to give Ireland a dream start.
France responded well to the setback, with Griezmann and Giroud going close with headers soon after, but Ireland managed to get the blocks in, with Duffy magnificent in the Irish defence. Pogba drew a great save from Randolph with a stunning free-kick midway through the half, while Payet and Griezmann had efforts on goal blocked towards the end of the half, as Ireland desperately held on to their lead going into the break.
Didier Deschamps words at half time had the intended effect, as France went close from Koscielny’s far-post header right after the break. The hosts asserted their ascendancy in the 58th minute, as Bacary Sagna sent in an inch-perfect cross for Antoine Griezmann to head into the bottom corner and equalize for the French.
The game was turned on its head minutes later, as Olivier Giroud did well to lay off a long ball to Griezmann charging up the pitch, and the Atletico Madrid forward kept his composure to slot the ball into the bottom of the net and give France a precious lead in the 62nd minute.
Things went from bad to worse for Ireland a few minutes later, as Duffy was sent off for tripping Griezmann with a sliding tackle on the edge of the box, when the Frenchman was clean through on goal. The Irish looked crestfallen and things could have been worse in the 76th minute, as substitute Gignac hit the crossbar with a curling effort from range and later saw a flick at the near post narrowly drift wide, also eschewing another chance in the box from a low cutback in the final few minutes.
It mattered litte, as the referee finally blew for full time to send France into the quarterfinals against either England or Ireland, to huge cheers in Lyon, while the Irish could be proud of their valiant efforts.