The final four of the 2016 European Championships is set in stone after the final quarter final saw France clinically dispose of Iceland this morning.
Poland 1-1 Portugal (3-5 on penalties)
After they somehow scraped through the group stage in third place, Portugal got past Croatia in Round 16 before they met Poland in the first quarter final. Robert Lewandowski finally got off the mark with his first goal of the tournament after meeting Kamil Grosicki’s cross from the left side to power home from close range.
On the edge of the box, teenage sensation Renato Sanches played a neat one-two before lashing in a left-footed shot in the bottom right of the goal. Although both goals were scored in the first half, the sides couldn’t be separated until penalties where Portugal converted all five of their penalties to pass through to the semis.
Wales 3-1 Belgium
Wales rewrote the history books after shocking Belgium with an impressive come-from-behind 3-1 victory to ensure their best progress in a major tournament to date. The Welsh fell behind early after Radja Nainggolan hammered a long-range shot into the top corner from outside the box for a goal of the tournament contender. Wales’ captain responded though, after he headed in the equaliser off a corner kick on the half hour. Unattached at club level, Hal Robson-Kanu had the crowd on their feet after a stunning turn on the ball tricked the Belgian defenders before he was able to slot his shot past Thibaut Courtois. Substitute Sam Vokes put the match to bed with his header off Chris Gunter’s cross sealing the result and sending the ‘Dragons’ to the semi finals.
Germany 1-1 Italy (6-5 on penalties)
It took 65 minutes before a goal was scored after left-back Jonas Hector set up Mesut Ozil for Germany’s opener. Jerome Boateng incidentally handled the ball in the box, allowing Leonardo Bonucci to convert the equaliser from the spot. After scores remained level after extra time, both sides went through nine penalties each before a result was reached. A mixture of good goalkeeping from Germany’s Manuel Neuer and Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon and poor penalty-taking extended the wait for a result before Jonas Hector was successful with the final penalty.
France 5-2 Iceland
Iceland’s brilliant and surprising run in Euro 2016 came to end after they were defeated 5-2 by a clinical France line-up. Goals to Olivier Giroud and Paul Pogba in the first 20 minutes set up a platform for France to build upon. France exhibited calmness and confidence on the ball while dominantly holding possession before Dimitri Payet extended the lead with another long-range strike. Shortly after, Antoine Griezmann became outright top goal-scorer with his fourth of the tournament for a 4-0 halftime lead. Iceland achieved some consolation for their loyal fans with two second-half goals on either side of Olivier Giroud’s second of the night.
There will be a shock team in the final of the 2016 European Championships when Portugal and Wales contest each other in the first semi final while Germany and France are certain to draw a big crowd for their highly anticipated semi final encounter. – Patrick Staveley
Photo of French player Antoine Griezmann scoring a goal in the Iceland match from the Euro 2016 Facebook page.