What did we really expect? That Iceland would shock the hosts (France) as they did England? Iceland did their bit in creating the false hope in some quarters by brushing aside star-studded Spurs-dominant England, however the host nation showed England how to beat a team who thrived more on belief instead of talent. On a cold windy night in Stade de France, the host nation once again showed everyone why they were favourites by demolishing Iceland and ending a presumptive Leicester style title challenge by the Icelanders.
A double from Arsenal hitman Olivier Giroud and one each from Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann was enough to complete a mauling that made Iceland look like they got to the quarterfinals riding on sheer luck. Goals from Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Birkir Bjarnason could only serve as consolation in a game dominated by the French from the first blast of the whistle.
Parallel to the run of play on minute 12, PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi delivered a delight of a ball over the top for Olivier Giroud, who wasted no time in blasting it through the legs of Hannes Thor Halldorsson in the Iceland goal to make it one nil.
France stepped on the gas and the much criticised Paul Pogba rose highest to head in Payet’s corner to increase the score to 2-0.
Dimitri Payet then continued his challenge for player of the tournament by driving a low shot into the bottom right corner, and triple France’s lead over the Icelanders.
Then, it was the turn of Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann to get his name on the scoresheet. The forward did well to stay onside as he completed a cheeky little chip over Halldorsson, after being slipped through to make the score an insurmountable 4-nill just before the break.
Iceland resumed the second half with nothing more to lose and so engaged in forays of attacks. It paid off, as Gylfi Sigurdsson’s low cross was turned in by Sigthorsson to bring the score to 4-1. The Iceland fans finally had something to cheer for.
However, the cheers of the Iceland fans was short lived as a blunder by Halldorsson following Payet’s free-kick allowed Giroud to rise highest and head in his second of the match and a 5th goal for the French.
Bjarnason was on hand to head in Skulason’s cross to draw a roar from the patriotic Iceland fans and bring the score to 5-2.
A well deserved win by the host nation but England will be disappointed to see their conquerors lose by such a wide margin considering the fact that Iceland actually got the two goals (today) which knocked them (England) out. Iceland’s thrashing further reveals the porosity of the Three lions.
A tougher challenge surely awaits France when they take on Germany in the semi-finals of Euro 2016, but for now, it is pats on the back on a victory that looked routine from the last whistle in the first-half.