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08 July 2016

France topple Germany to reach Euro 2016 final

franceA strong, determined performance from France was enough to earn a final date with Portugal; Germany had plenty of possession, but created little.

France began the game well, lovely interplay between Blaise Matuidi and Antoine Griezmann taking them across the pitch and into the box before the ball caught under Griezmann’s feet, allowing Manuel Neuer to push his shot away. Subsequently, Germany took over, the clever angles of passing and movement taken by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos too much for France, who simply sat deep, hoping to survive and then break.

In that period, Germany could not create much, lacking ideas around the box and a serious centre-forward, though Samuel Umtiti was outstanding in the French defence and in front of him, Moussa Sissoko chased and tracked diligently.

Then, on the stroke of half-time, Patrice Evra, a growing offensive influence, rose to attack a header and Schweinsteiger rose with him, throwing up an arm that made contact with the ball. The referee pointed to the spot, and Griezmann slammed it home left-footed into the left edge of the net, halfway up.

Germany could not muster the same dominance in the second half as France improved – Laurent Koscielny grew into the game as did Paul Pogba, and it was he who created the decisive second after 72 minutes. Catching Joshua Kimmich in possession, he refused the opportunity to go down under the consequent challenge, instead backing away, waggling his foot over the ball and beating him again before lifting a cross that Neuer could only palm out to Griezmann, who stabbed home with chilling competence.

And that, more or less was that. The Marseille crowd enjoyed 20 minutes of collective bliss, and France will fancy themselves hard in the final.

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