France crushed Iceland's child-like dreams - now only Wales can give Euro 2016 a miracle ending
With cool-headed intelligence and hard-nosed ruthlessness, France brought daylight in on magic and sent Iceland’s tournament rookies to bed without any dinner
So this is how you put down an underdog, this is how you turn child-like dreams to dust.
With cool-headed intelligence and hard-nosed ruthlessness, France brought daylight in on magic and sent Iceland’s tournament rookies to bed without any dinner.
As the goals rained in – two from Olivier Giroud, one apiece for Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann – England’s national embarrassments must have been smarting at the apparent simplicity of it all.
Not that any Frenchman was concerning themselves with Roy Hodgson’s flops. They are thinking only of a semi-final date with Germany on Thursday, after a bravura first-half performance which marked them out as serious contenders to lift the trophy here a week from now.
As well as humiliating England, Iceland were unbeaten in the group stage. So France do not deserved to be damned with faint praise for marmalising them.
Giroud was clinical, Pogba was imperious, while Payet and Griezmann were indulging in moments of pure sorcery as France became the first team to score four goals in the first half of a European Championship finals match.
Olivier Giroud scores the opener
The world champions will present a very different challenge next time round but Didier Deschamps’ men will head into the last four on a wave of national optimism now.
There had been an air of trepidation around the French before kick-off. The hosts had stumbled into the last eight and knew they had everything to lose against Europe’s favourite underdogs.
Samuel Umtiti, the Barcelona new recruit, was given an international debut in central defence because of Adil Rami’s suspension – never ideal against a team with such significant aerial threat.
The atmosphere was crackling; nobody seemed to be missing the English, who were supposed to have been here.
The Icemen had colonised a large corner of the Stade de France and were booming out their Viking ‘Huh!’ chant, swaying to their favourite folk song and generally expecting to wake up with a jolt at any minute.
Dimitri Payet scores their third goal
Iceland's Kolbeinn Sigthorsson pulls one back
The tournament rookies had slapped down Cristiano Ronaldo, dumped out Austria and delivered a P45 to Roy Hodgson on their way here. But inside 20 minutes, their alarm call duly arrived as France struck twice.
First Blaise Matuidi delivered through the inside-left channel and Giroud survived a fag-paper offside call to nutmeg keeper Hannes Halldorsson from an angle.
Giroud has been booed here during warm-up matches despite a decent scoring record for Les Bleus and Pogba, who would net the second, had also taken a fair bit of stick, having failed to live up to his billing as tournament poster-boy until now.
His moment arrived when Griezmann delivered a corner from the right and the Juventus midfield man soared to head home with power and precision. Iceland might have pegged them back soon after when Aron Gunarsson delivered one of his huge throw-ins and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson flicked on but Jon Dadi Bodvarsson volleyed over.
The game ended 5 - 2 in favour of France.