- Hosts France beat world champions Germany to reach UEFA EURO 2016 final
- Antoine Griezmann scores from spot after Bastian Schweinsteiger’s handball (45+2)
- Striker prods in his sixth goal of tournament to clinch win (72)
- France will play Portugal in Sunday’s final at Stade de France
France will have the chance to emulate their 1984 European champions after two assured Antoine Griezmann finishes earned a semi-final win in Marseille and ended Germany’s hopes of adding the European crown to the world title they lifted two years ago.
France had scored five times in their quarter-final with Iceland and started brilliantly here, Griezmann combining well with Blaise Matuidi; Manuel Neuer was down sharply to push away.
Germany, however, stood firm amid a vibrant Marseille night and began to monopolise possession, Thomas Müller steering a shot just wide before Emre Can brought Hugo Lloris into action.
Joachim Löw’s side enjoyed 64% possession in the first half – but with the last kick of it, they fell behind. Bastian Schweinsteiger blocked Patrice Evra’s header with his hand and Griezmann – who missed a penalty in the UEFA Champions League final – made no mistake, sending Neuer the wrong way from the spot.
While France started the second period on the front foot, they were swiftly and steadily pushed back as Germany sought a reply. However, the France rearguard held its discipline and refused to allow clear opportunities, while Didier Deschamps’ team threatened on the break themselves.
Just as Germany looked to be working up a head of steam, France struck again. Paul Pogba retrieved possession down the left and Neuer, under pressure, could only palm away his cross; Griezmann prodded in the loose ball.
Germany responded strongly, Joshua Kimmich rattling the outside of the post, while the French goal had several fortuitous escapes in the closing stages, but the home crowd and the players they had cheered throughout cared little as the celebrations began.
Man of the Match: Antoine Griezmann (France)
The forward started the tournament slowly, but has come to life in the knockout phase – he now has five goals in his last three appearances. His double at the Vélodrome showed a player in great touch: nerves of steel to convert from the spot and a poacher’s instinct to turn in the clinching second.
Deschamps bravery pays off
Deschamps stuck with the 4-2-3-1 approach that had proved so effective in the second half of the round of 16 success over the Republic of Ireland and in the quarter-final against Iceland – and was duly rewarded. Germany dominated for long stretches but when France countered, they did so with purpose and in numbers.
Lack of cutting edge costs Germany
The world champions failed in their bid to add the European crown to their trophy cabinet, and will look back on this as a missed opportunity. Löw’s side had their chances – 17 shots, six of them on target – and mustered 65% possession, but in truth clear openings proved hard to come by.
France’s record in Marseille is not particularly noteworthy – before tonight it read W7 D3 L4 – although there is one particular omen that may give pause for thought. The last time a host nation won the UEFA European Championship, in 1984, it was France after a dramatic semi-final at the Vélodrome. Against Portugal.