France ripped through Iceland to earn a semi-final against Germany; during the course of a brilliant first-half display in which they scored four times, a collection of brilliant individuals morphing into a team, and the spectacle was as moving as it was devastating.
It took France just 12 minutes to take the lead, Olivier Giroud heading home after Matuidi lifted a lovely ball into his stride; the finish was unerring. And seven minutes later, France doubled the advantage, Antoine Griezmannflighting a perfect corner to the far post, where Paul Pogba‘s violent header was too much for the zonal making and man on the line.
France spent the remainder of the first half passing and moving, the midfield balance giving Griezmann the chance to take up positions been midfield and defence. So it was no great surprise when, on 42 minutes, another goal arrived, one-touch passing creating space out wide before Sissoko’s cross found Payet; he drove home a cross-shot from the edge of the box.
And France were there again just before half-time, a long passing move giving Pogba the chance to laser a through-pass that Giroud stepped over, putting Griezmann in, one-on-one; his chipped finish, as Halldorsson went down was delightful.
Iceland played better in the second half goals from Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Birkir Bjarnason bookending another for Giroud, who joined Payet and Griezmann on three tournament goals. But even winding down, France looked a serious outfit, and for anyone with the remotest interest in football, sport or anything, Thursday cannot come soon enough.