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France ends Iceland fairytale with Euro trouncing

Soccer

France swept emphatically into the Euro 2016 semi-finals and brought Iceland’s fairytale run to a crushing halt as Olivier Giroud scored twice in a 5-2 win.

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The overnight victory sets up a mouth-watering last-four clash with Germany in Marseille on Friday morning, Australian time.

Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann were also on target for the hosts in a romp at the Stade de France that proved a nightmare end to Iceland’s improbable dreams of success.

Having fairly comfortably eased past England into the quarter-finals, Iceland – the smallest nation to have qualified for the European Championship, with a population of 330,000 – were 4-0 down inside the first half.

They tried to rally after the break with a goal from Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, and added a late consolation through Birkir Bjarnason, but the damage had already been done.

France, who had not been past the quarter-finals since they won the tournament in 2000, eased off and cruised home.

Coming into the game, Iceland were praised for a rigidly well-organised defence while France had found first-half goals hard to come by, with their previous six coming after the break.

It was a matter of minutes, however, before both of those traits to be swept aside, as France set about picking their way through gaping holes in Iceland’s previously solid rearguard.

Having defended so admirably against England, Iceland were 2-0 down inside 20 minutes through two of the oldest and simplest tricks in the football playbook.

The opener came after 12 minutes from a hopeful long ball which found Giroud with acres of space to run through and he drive a low finish beneath keeper Hannes Halldorsson.

-Reuters

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