Germany 0-2 France: Antoine Griezmann’s double sees Didier Deschamps’ side into Euro 2016 final
Antoine Griezmann scored twice as France beat Germany 2-0 at the Stade Velodrome to set up a Euro 2016 final with Portugal in Paris, on Sunday.
Germany enjoyed almost 70 per cent possession during a frantic first-half in Marseille but it was France who broke the deadlock in injury time at the end of the first period after Patrice Evra’s header was adjudged to have hit the arm of Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Griezmann made no mistake from the spot (45+2) and the tournament’s leading goalscorer was again celebrating in the 72nd minute after he capitalised on mistakes from Joshua Kimmich and Manuel Neuer to score his sixth goal of the competition to send Didier Deschamps’ side to the final.
For Germany, who did everything but score, they exit the tournament having now lost four of their last six semi-finals at major tournaments.
France, who become the first host nation to reach the Euros final twice, now have the opportunity to win their first major tournament since Euro 2000 and evoke memories of the side Deschamps captained to World Cup glory in 1998.
France had the luxury of naming the same starting line up in consecutive Euros matches for the first time in the country’s history following their 5-2 quarter-final victory over Iceland, while Germany made three changes with Schweinsteiger, Emre Can and Julian Draxler replacing the suspended Mats Hummels and the injured duo of Sami Khedira and Mario Gomez.
The first big chance of the match fell to Griezmann in the seventh minute after he danced his way through the Germany defence, but his right-footed shot could not beat the dive of Neuer.
France looked the sharper of the two sides but Germany gradually worked their way into the contest with Thomas Muller snatching at a first-time effort after being picked out by Can.
The Liverpool midfielder was involved again minutes later as his deflected shot looked to be heading for the bottom corner before Hugo Lloris got down to his right to palm the ball to safety.
Germany were beginning to dominate possession with Toni Kroos running the show, and he wanted a penalty in the 21st minute after going down under the challenge of Samuel Umtiti and Paul Pogba, but Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli waved away the appeals.
Just as they started the half well, France finished the stronger of the two sides with Evra slipping the ball into the path of Griezmann, who hit the side netting with a snap-shot from a tight angle.
A minute later, Olivier Giroud raced through on goal with Griezmann in support, but the Arsenal striker was just not fast enough to get away from Benedikt Howedes, who recovered to make a superb last ditch sliding challenge.
France were not finished there though as Evra headed Dimitri Payet’s corner against the arm of Schweinsteiger and after a moment of confusion Rizzoli booked the Manchester United midfielder and pointed to the spot. Griezmann stepped up to send Neuer the wrong way to score his fifth goal of the tournament.
Deschamps’ side started the second half in confident fashion with Moussa Sissoko picking out Giroud, but the striker’s shot was expertly blocked by Jerome Boateng. Seconds later, Griezmann went close again after combining with Giroud in the penalty area and the former’s shot was deflected over the crossbar.
Germany were still seeing plenty of the ball but in the absence of the injured Gomez, they were struggling for a cutting edge in the final third with Laurent Koscielny and the impressive Umtiti defending resolutely.
Germany were forced into a change in the 61st minute when Shkodran Mustafi replaced the injured Boateng and Joachim Low was soon calling for attacking reinforcements with Mario Gotze coming on in place of Can.
But it was France who extended their lead and it was two Germany errors, the first by Kimmich and the second by Neuer, that handed Griezmann his second. Kimmich gave the ball away inside his own box, before the Bayern Munich goalkeeper flapped at Pogba’s cross and Griezmann was on hand to poke home from close range.
Germany almost responded immediately and it was Kimmich, who almost made amends for his mistake, clipping the outside of the post with a curling effort from the edge of the penalty area.
Low threw Leroy Sane on for Schweinsteiger with 11 minutes remaining and he almost scored with his first touch before Mustafi lashed over from close range and Howedes headed over.
France went close to extending their advantage with four minutes remaining but Griezmann fluffed his lines in search of a hat-trick, firing his effort straight at a grateful Neuer.
It proved to be the Atletico Madrid forward’s last action and he was replaced by Yohan Cabaye after getting a standing ovation from all four sides of the ground.
Germany had one final chance to pull one back as Kimmich turned the ball goalwards but Lloris kept his clean sheet intact with a tremendous diving stop to sum up Germany’s evening.
Germany: Neuer, Hector, Howedes, Boateng (Mustafi, 61), Kimmich, Schweinsteiger (Sane, 79), Ozil, Draxler, Can (Gotze, 67), Kroos, Muller
France: Lloris, Sagna, Koscielny, Umtiti, Evra, Pogba, Matuidi, Payet (Kante, 71), Sissoko, Griezmann (Cabaye, 90+2), Giroud (Gignac, 78).
Man of Match: Antoine Griezmann