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Ireland v France - Euro 2016
Ireland’s first appearance in the knock-out stages of the Euro finals came against tournament hosts France on Sunday 26th June 2016 at the Stade de Lyon. This was Ireland’s reward for drawing with Sweden, losing against Belgium, and beating Italy in the group stages.
It was a very hot day and they Irish had played Italy just four days before whereas the French had a full week to recover from their last match. The Irish fans hoped that the heat in Lyon would not be a factor in determining the outcome of the tie.
Inspired by their victory over the Italians the Irish began brightly and unbelievably were a goal up within two minutes of the kick-off. The second fastest goal ever scored are the Euros up to that time. A clumsy challenge by Paul Pogba on striker Shane Long left the referee with no choice but to point to the spot. Brimming with confidence Norwich City’s Robbie Brady drove the ball into the net via the base of the upright. The combination of precision and power left Lloris in the French goal with no chance.
The Irish continued to play with intensity and some skill to keep the French team strangely subdued although they did have some chances including a couple from Antoine Griezmann of Athletico Madrid. The half-time whistle went with Ireland looking good value for their 1–0 lead.
During the half-time break French manager Didier Deschamps decided to replace N’Golo Kante with the more attack-minded Kingsley Coman. Almost instantly it became apparent that the French had upped their effort and application.
Koscielny had come close before the French found a 58th minute equaliser through a Griezmann header. Three minutes later the same player found himself in acres of space in the box and enough time to place his shot wide of the despairing dive of Darren Randolph.
A few minutes later the tie was effectively beyond rescue for the Irish. Griezmann again caused the damage as he ran through on goal. Last defender Duffy took him down just outside the box and the referee had little choice but to brandish red. John O’Shea came on as a sub for James McClean to win his 114th international cap as Irish manager Martin O’Neill tried to shore up his defence.
With a number of other great chances the French could have added to their lead however the match ended 2-1 and the Irish adventure at Euro 2016 had come to an end. In stark contrast to the efforts at Euro 2012 the Irish management and players had given the Irish fans, in France and at home plenty to cheer throughout the tournament.
Euro 2016 - Republic of Ireland V France Statistics
Irish & French Teams
Republic of Ireland Team
Date: 26 June 2016. Venue: Stade de Lyon, Lyon, France. Attendance: 56,279. Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy).
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