The hosts France set up a EURO 2016 Final with Portugal on Sunday, after Antoine Griezmann’s brace in each half earned Les Bleus a Semi-Final triumph over Germany at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Thursday night.
Griezmann opened the scoring with a penalty in first-half stoppage time, prior to confirming France’s place in the Final at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis during the final 20 minutes, when he capitalised on a defensive mistake to score from close-range.
France manager Didier Deschamps fielded the same starting line-up that dispatched Iceland 5-2 in the Quarter-Final, for the encounter against the current World Champions.
Meanwhile, his counterpart Joachim Low was forced to make three changes to his Germany side, as Emre Can, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Julian Draxler subsequently replaced Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira and Mario Gomez.
After a positive opening to the game, France’s inaugural chance came from Griezmann, who linked up well down the left with Blaise Matuidi, before collecting the ball back, he weaved towards the German goal but goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was equal to the side-footed effort.
Neuer’s opposite keeper Hugo Lloris had to be alert shortly after, when the ball fell kindly to Can from the left, he half-connected with his strike from just inside the penalty area, however Lloris dived swiftly to his right to palm away the danger.
Dimitri Payet’s dipping free-kick from 30-yards was later comfortably held by Neuer, while Lloris superbly tipped Schweinsteiger’s long-range moving drive over the bar, in what was turning into a battle of the shot-stoppers.
As the half drew to its conclusion, France had efforts through Paul Pogba’s free-kick, before Griezmann drilled the ball into the side-netting from a tight angle.
In stoppage time, Schweinsteiger was adjudged to have handled inside the area, a penalty was awarded and up-stepped the left-footed Griezmann, who confidently sent Neuer the wrong way, finding the right side of the goal.
Play resumed for the second-half, and just minutes after the interval, Griezmann nearly added a second – but the Atletico Madrid man saw his shot deflected away having been played in by Olivier Giroud.
Germany looked to frantically find the elusive goal they had craved, though Low’s side were unable to breach France’s back-line.
Though with 71 minutes on the clock, France had their second goal through Griezmann. Pogba turned Joshua Kimmich inside out before whipping a teasing ball from the left that was spilled by Neuer to the feet of Griezmann, who pounced on the loose ball to net from 12 yards, sparking wild French celebrations.
In the dying embers, Germany went close, though it was France’s party on an historic early July evening in Marseille, as they achieved a Final place on home soil.
Man of the Match: Antoine Griezmann (France)
France’s two-goal hero, Griezmann, has really found his best form in recent tournament fixtures, and his match-winning display against Germany proved why he has become indispensable to Deschamps.
A menace to the German defence right from the off, the 25-year-old enjoyed his finest hour to date at these Finals in Marseille, and deserved his two goals for a fine individual performance.
Griezmann has netted six goals at EURO 2016, and has been rejuvenated in previous knockout rounds, showing the strikers instinct that a player needs to be successful at international level.
France head to the Stade de France for Sunday’s Final against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, looking for a first European crown since 2000, while Germany head home disappointed after their semi-final defeat.