It seemed for almost an hour that the Republic of Ireland the underdogs were about to dump the hosts France out of Euro 2016. And then Antoine Griezmann made his mark on the game with two stunning strikes inside 3 minutes to seal victory for the French.
Les Bleus had started the match in the worst possible fashion after giving a penalty away just 2 minutes into the game. Robbie Brady converted it and the Irish had taken an unlikely lead.
From then on the game belonged to France who dominated possession but there was a hint that today just wouldn’t be theirs. Time and again chances were missed with all France’s usual star players being guilty. Dimitri Payet so good in these championships was guilty on more than one occasion of seeking personal glory. He took many shots from long range hoping for the spectacular instead of not playing the ball to the better positioned player.
Antoine Griezmann’s passing was wayward and over powered and the French team time and again when going forward seemed happy to kick the ball back. In short we were witnessing a performance where it was literally 1 step forward and two back and the Irish kept their back four solid up to that point frustrating the hosts and even showing signs of going forward.
Indeed if it wasn’t for Hugo Lloris in goal France most probably would have been out of Euro 2016. The Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper made a brace of saves from short range that kept his side in the game. Griezmann might be getting all the plaudits and deservedly so but Lloris’ performance shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Paul Pogba showed signs of why Juventus don’t want to sell him for under £100m Euros but another player to stand out for France was Kingsley Coman. The 20 year old was electric in the second half and really opened up an until then very defensive Irish unit.
Griezmann’s first goal and France’s equaliser was a superb header and the second owed much to the Irish’s defence tiredness by then as the goal, but he took it well.
After France went 2-1 up there was only going to be one winner as the wind was taken out of the Irish game and then to add insult to injury Shane Duffy was shown the red card for taking out Griezmann who was going for his hat trick.
Republic of Ireland have played their part in this tournament and their fans have been fantastic but the end of the road has come for the Irish. As for France they march on to a quarter final date with either England or Iceland.