A star-studded French squad decimated Iceland by a 5-2 scoreline in the fourth quarter-final at Saint-Denis. The Vikings, despite their huge loss, were cheered after the final whistle, as it is was a memorable moment in the history of the Nordic nation.
An Olivier Giroud brace, backed by goals from Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann saw France run out 5-2 winners on the night, ending Iceland’s fairy-tale run at Euro 2016. Kolbeinn Sigthórsson and Birkir Bjarnason scored for the Vikings, as they never gave up the chase and kept throwing bodies forward.
Speaking to the press after the match, France head-coach Didier Deschamps said as per UEFA’s official website: “There are a lot of positives to take away from this evening and I am delighted for the players as they deserve this, and for these fans who have been behind us for months. To be able to offer them something to make them smile and feel happy and have another week in it – I’m delighted about that.”
“It wasn’t easy to manage everything but this evening we did all we had to in the first half. Afterwards we let up a little, and I really wanted to protect Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny. They were facing a possible suspension and it would have been really stupid to lose a player in such a game.”
Man of the match Olivier Giroud praised the opposition after the final whistle.
“We scored five goals and we’re very pleased. Iceland never gave up. They’re a very determined side and I’d like to congratulate them. They had a great Euro.”
“I don’t know if this is my best performance for France. I’ve played other good games but this is in a major tournament so perhaps it is. I felt really good from the start. We’re used to making bad starts, but we began strongly and need to continue like that. We were on top from the very first minutes and very clinical.”
Vikings’ coach Lars Lagerbäck was pleased with his side’s performance over the course of the tournament, and said that they would learn from the loss to France.
“I’d like to congratulate France. They’re a fantastic team and they made us look bad, even if we contributed to that. These four-and-a-half years have been a fantastic journey for me. With all the fans coming here and what we heard from back home, and all the positivity and interest – I feel it deep in my heart. I’ve enjoyed every minute, except maybe the first 45 minutes today.”
“We didn’t handle it well mentally, but in the second half we showed it wasn’t a physical problem. These are the games you have to learn from and we need to learn from this. This was a good reminder that you have to have the right attitude every second.”
Icelandic forward Alfred Finnbogason stated: “A bitter end to a fantastic tournament for us but of course the game was lost in the first half. If we had got to half-time at 2-0, there was still a chance and we showed a lot of fighting spirit in winning the second half, but it was a tough lesson for us.”
“We really put Iceland on the footballing map. We have been getting messages from all over the world about how people are proud of us and that they really love the fighting spirit that we showed. So we can really go happy and proud from this tournament.”
France may have won the game, but it was Iceland who won the hearts of footballing fans all around the globe. A country with a population of only 330,000 put up a fine performance at the Euros, and managed to give the hosts too, a run for their money in the second half. This is a footballing tale that will be remembered for years to come.
Here’s how the game played out on social media:
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 3, 2016
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 3, 2016
— nessa deleto ॐ (@nessa_deleto) July 3, 2016
— Pro Evolution Soccer (@officialpes) July 3, 2016
— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) July 3, 2016
Iceland – a side who won the hearts of millions – were celebrated:
If Iceland was a person, we’d tell him that we love him.
How do you do this with a whole country? #FRAISL
— Resa SASO (@Die_Resi_) July 3, 2016
— anna (@annamakros) July 3, 2016
— Time Drop (@Time_Drop) July 3, 2016
— Kuba Spodniewski (@antychrust) July 3, 2016
— Khizar Tareen (@raveshawpk) July 3, 2016
— Ahmed (@axmedkhokhar) July 3, 2016
— lilaribbon (@lilaribbon) July 3, 2016
Im beyond PROUD of my country,getting this far to begin with is amazing! Nothing but love for France, nothing but love for the team #FRAISL
— Eva | GO ICELAND (@VipJustins) July 3, 2016
Sorry, can we all take a moment to salute the Icelanders fans? What a way to cheers their team! #FRAISL
— AuNomDeLaMode (@Aunomdelamode1) July 3, 2016
You have to respect the islanders for their great character and for showing off a good game #FRAISL
— Ape (@yossi31) July 3, 2016
We’re so sorry for you. I think whole Europe wanted you to win tonight.
…. Well, maybe France didn’t. #FRAISL
— Resa SASO (@Die_Resi_) July 3, 2016
— lamine nabe (@mnabe_m) July 3, 2016
Olivier Giroud was praised for his incredible performance.
— Seema Jaswal (@meseemajaswal) July 3, 2016
Olivier Giroud’s game by numbers:
100% aerial duels won
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 3, 2016
— JohnDykes (@JohnDykesUK) July 3, 2016
The Three Lions were obviously under severe scrutiny:
— Goal (@goal) July 3, 2016
How did England get on vs France? Oh, I forgot…
— Gary Sheffield (@ProfGSheffield) July 3, 2016
Massive fair play to every single person involved with #ISL‘s Euro 2016 campaign.
What a valiant effort, puts England to shame.
— TheODDSbible (@TheOddsBible) July 3, 2016
England have beaten all the semi finals in the last 12 months.
If only friendlies counted!
— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) July 3, 2016
France showed how to not underestimate opponent, play to their strengths & generally not be a bunch of bottle job mugs. Take note England.
— Spencer FC (@SpencerOwen) July 3, 2016
REVEALED: The brand new England shirt on sale now! pic.twitter.com/yp6Lzzo0sG
— TheFootballCommunity (@Footy_Community) July 3, 2016
Just think, we could all be watching England lose 8-0 right now.
— Rhys James (@rhysjamesy) July 3, 2016
Maybe not make this *all* about England. They’re not here you know. Gone home. Solipsistic egomania part of the problem
— Barney Ronay (@barneyronay) July 3, 2016