An Antoine Griezmann double has taken France to the final of the European Championships as they held off Germany 2-0.
Despite dominating possession throughout the encounter, Germany were unable to find the net. Strong defensive performances from Laurent Koscielny and Samuel Umtiti plus goalkeeping heroics from Hugo Lloris kept them at bay.
Both teams had chances in the first half, with Antoine Griezmann proving to be France’s most dangerous weapon in attack before he made a breakthrough on half-time.
From the corner, Germany’s captain Bastian Schweinsteiger led with his arm in a challenge against Patrice Evra for the ball, where it struck his hand. Referee Nicola Rizzoli decided to point to the penalty spot, much to the disbelief of the German fans. Schweinsteiger received a yellow card and a calm and composed Griezmann comfortably sent goalkeeper Manuel Neuer the wrong way.
The home nation had the crowd on its feet by now, having taken a 1-0 lead into the half-time break, however Germany’s threat of equalising never wavered.
In the 72nd minute, Germany’s young right-back Joshua Kimmich surrendered possession in his own box to Paul Pogba, who passed Kimmich before chipping a cross into the six-yard box. Neuer couldn’t punch the ball far and Griezmann was in the right place to pounce for France’s second.
Kimmich almost claimed redemption when his shot rocketed off the far post. He was denied again in added time when his header was swiped away by the outstretched glove of Hugo Lloris.
France held on for a monumental victory to reach the final as hosts again, having won the 1998 World Cup. They face Portugal in the final on Monday morning, Australian eastern time. – Patrick Staveley
Photo of France celebrating their semi-final win from the Euro 2016 Facebook page.