France 5-2 Iceland: Hosts romp into Euro 2016 semi-finals
By Stephen Mills
Last Updated: 04/07/16 9:45am
Red-hot France remain on course to win Euro 2016 on home soil after they dispatched Iceland 5-2 to set up a semi-final with Germany.
The tournament hosts put England's conquerors to the sword at the Stade de France in Sunday's quarter-final with goals from Olivier Giroud, Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann putting them 4-0 ahead in a sizzling first-half performance.
Giroud added a fifth after the break, although Iceland kept the scoreline respectable with second-half goals from Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Birkir Bjarnason.
And Didier Deschamps' side will now will be brimming with confidence ahead of Thursday's last-four showdown with the world champions in Marseille.
After a security alert near the stadium in the hours before kick-off, France's supporters arrived in Paris looking for improvement from a side that had laboured against Romania, Albania, Switzerland and Republic of Ireland in their previous matches.
France had not scored a first-half goal at Euro 2016 before this game, but became the first side in European Championships history to score four times before the break with Giroud's 12th-minute opener proving the catalyst for a simply stunning display.
The Arsenal striker remained just onside as he ran onto Blaise Matuidi's through-ball, allowing it to bounce before lashing it through the legs of goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson.
The second came seven minutes later as Pogba rose majestically to power home Griezmann's corner before Iceland almost snatched a goal back when Kolbeinn Sigthorsson flicked Aron Gunnarsson's long throw into the path of Jon Dadi Bodvarsson to wastefully lift over the bar from close range.
Payet produced a fine third on 42 minutes. Pogba's cross was nodded down by Giroud and the West Ham player collected Griezmann's lay-off, dragged the ball away from his marker and drilled home into the bottom corner.
And it was effectively over as a contest two minutes later as Giroud dummied Pogba's long ball from defence and Griezmann - now leading the race for the Euro 2016 Golden Boot - ghosted through to flick the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper.
Spirited Iceland continued their run of scoring in every game at Euro 2016 when Sigthorsson volleyed Gylfi Sigurdsson's fine cross past Hugo Lloris 11 minutes after the interval, but Giroud scored France's fifth two minutes later when he headed Payet's free-kick past the onrushing Halldorsson.
That would prove to be his last touch as he was replaced by Andre-Pierre Gignac as Iceland rallied and Lloris made a super point-blank save to deny substitute Sverrir Iingi Ingason's header.
The France goalkeeper would be beaten a second time six minutes before the end when Bjarnason headed home Ari Freyr Skulason's cross. It was the last big moment of Iceland's Euro 2016 adventure and their players will leave Paris disappointed with this result, but secure of their place in their nation's sporting history following famous wins over Austria and England.
Meanwhile, France march on to a last-four showdown with Germany and despite some defensive frailties, few would count against them returning to the same venue in a week's time to contest the final against Portugal or Wales.
France: Lloris, Sagna, Koscielny (Mangala, 72), Umtiti, Evra, Pogba, Matuidi, Sissoko, Griezmann, Payet (Coman, 79), Giroud (Gignac, 60)
Iceland: Halldorsson, Saevarsson, R Sigurdsson, Arnason (Ingason, 45), Skulason, Gudmundsson, G Sigurdsson, Gunnarsson, Bjarnason, Sigthorsson (Gudjohnsen), Bodvarsson (Finnbogason, 45),
Man of the Match: Antoine Griezmann