Iceland’s historic run ends as Giroud powers France home

France's Olivier Giroud celebrates after scoring his side's fifth goal.

France's Olivier Giroud celebrates after scoring his side's fifth goal.

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Hosts France set up a mouth-watering Euro 2016 semi-final with Germany by comprehensively ending Iceland’s captivating and historic run.

Fresh from their remarkable victory against England, the smallest country to ever grace a major tournament arrived at the Stade de France looking to create an even bigger shock.

There was to be no happy ending to the biggest match in Icelandic football, though, as Didier Deschamps’s men shook off the sluggishness that had dogged them up until this point to win a thoroughly entertaining quarter-final 5-2.

World champions Germany now await in Marseille this Thursday, with a record-breaking first-half display key to France’s victory against the neutrals’ favourites.

Olivier Giroud’s 12th-minute strike was Les Bleus’ maiden first-half goal at this European Championship and proved the precursor to an avalanche, with Paul Pogba’s towering header, a wonderful Dimitri Payet strike and inspired Antoine Griezmann effort putting them in cruise control.

It was the first time a side had scored four goals in the first half of a Euros match and unsurprisingly proved too much of a mountain to climb, with Giroud adding another shortly after Kolbeinn Sigthorsson pulled one back.

That strike, just like Birkir Bjarnason’s late on, was celebrated wildly by Iceland’s fantastic support, who stayed long after the final whistle to applaud their players as a groundbreaking few weeks came to an end.

The opening goal saw Blaise Matuidi superbly clip the ball down the left for Giroud and the Arsenal striker beat Hannes Halldorsson with a low effort.

The impressive Iceland goalkeeper may well be disappointed not to keep the strike out, but there was little he could do to prevent Pogba’s powerful header.

A giant leap saw the Juventus midfielder beat Jon Dadi Bodvarsson to a Griezmann corner, with the ball flying into the top corner.

Payet’s intelligence and wonderful technique saw him increase their lead, taking a touch away from danger and hitting a low left-footed strike across the goalkeeper.

Matters were to get even worse before half-time after Giroud stepped over a low, driven ball forwards by Pogba, with Griezmann racing through and audaciously clipping over Halldorsson.

It was a record half-time lead that Iceland quickly chipped away at, pulling one back 11 minutes after the restart as Sigthorsson poked home a clever Sigurdsson cross.

France regained their four-goal cushion within minutes as Payet delivered a lovely free-kick that Giroud headed past Halldorsson, but Iceland’s attacking intent was not dampened in the Saint-Denis drizzle.

Alfred Finnbogason volleyed over and fellow substitute Sverrir Ingason forced an exceptional point-blank save out of Lloris, with handball appeals against Patrice Evra waved away.

That purpose was rewarded in the 84th minute as Bjarnason headed home Ari Skulason’s cross.

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