Euro 2016 – five key points from France’s Euro win

Paris (AFP) – Five key points from France’s 5-2 hammering of Iceland in the European Championship quarter-final on Sunday:

+ Fast and furious

After a series of wins that needed last-minute goals, France took control of the game from the start. Olivier Giroud fired the tournament hosts ahead in the 12th minute — the first time France have scored in the first half. And they never let Iceland hit back. The performance was a tough lesson for any England player watching. Paul Pogba, who headed the second goal, played fast and furious after a disappointing start to Euro 2016. With two goals in the final two minutes of the half by Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann, France had already killed off their opponents. You cannot argue with a 5-2 win — on paper.

+ Iceland run out of steam

It was another brave never-say-die Iceland performance but they looked jaded, as if they have not had time to recover from their glorious 2-1 win over England. Captain Aron Gunnarsson had one of the rare threatening moments with his trademark long throw-in into the France penalty area and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson volleyed the ball just over. His throw in the second half eventually led to Iceland’s goal by Kolbeinn Sigthorsson. Even when losing badly, they poured forward looking to score. Iceland have made their mark.

+ Dynamic attack

Difficult to choose which of the French players is most on form heading into the crunch semi-final against Germany on Thursday — and that must please French coach Didier Deschamps. Man-of-the-match Olivier Giroud scored two great goals from his only two chances, rising majestically above the Iceland defence to head his second before he was taken off. Antoine Griezmann brutally exposed the Iceland defence with his chipped goal that was the 100th scored at Euro 2016.

+ Defence doubts

The only worry for Didier Deschamps must be his defence. How did they fall for the Aron Gnunarsson throw that led to Iceland’s first goal? Substitute Sverrir Ingason had a clear chance for a second that produced a world-class save by France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Birkir Bjarnason was completely unmarked when he headed Iceland’s second goal. “It’s not ideal even if I made some changes,” said Deschamps. “But there are so many positives to take from tonight.”

+ Helmets and fun – going out with grace

With Viking-like horned helmets, big beards, and a serious sense of fun, Iceland’s fans charmed everyone they met from Marseille to Paris at Euro 2016. Before Sunday’s match several thousand gathered at bars outside Paris nightspot Moulin Rouge for what most already suspected would be one last party in France. “We have big hearts,” said Gudny Gardars, 40 — and most neutrals agreed with her. They had plenty to cheer in the stadium with the goals from Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Birkir Bjarnason. Iceland leave with a lot of positives and maybe some Premier League contracts for their players.

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