The cinderella run is over and Iceland are heading back to their beautiful island in the Atlantic following a comprehensive loss at the hands of France at Euro 2016. Iceland had no answers in a dominant opening 45 minutes from the hosts. Olivier Giroud, Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann were all on target inside the opening 45 minutes as France set up a mouthwatering meeting with 2014 World Cup winners Germany in Marseille on Thursday.
After Gylfi Sigurdsson fired the opening shot of the match, things devolved quickly for Iceland as the dynamic runs of Payet, Giroud and Griezmann began to rip open the Iceland defense. The match quickly became an effort to salvage pride rather than the chance at another monster upset.
Meanwhile, it was one big party for the French fans as their team showed why they have been considered one of the favorites from the start of the tournament. The attacking trio of Payet, Giroud and Griezmann were simply unstoppable. Dynamic runs, quality passes and spot on finishes were the order of the day and tiny Iceland just had no answers.
"We did what we needed to do in the first half," French coach Didier Deschamps said. "We were clinical and precise and we got the job done in the best possible way."
Iceland would not go quietly though as their fans stayed vocal throughout. They emerged from the halftime break with the effort and pride Euro 2016 watchers have come to expect. On 56 minutes Iceland found the net as Gylfi Sigurdsson sent in a low cross from the right and Sigthorsson did well to turn it home at the near post. If Iceland had harboured any thoughts that the goal might prove more than a consolation, they did not last long. Only minutes later Giroud scored his second, heading a Payet free kick into an empty net after Halldorsson found himself flailing in no man's land.
Each team would find the net once more in an entertaining 5-2 quarterfinal. Iceland leave Euro 2016 with a ton of respect earned, great memories and looking towards a bright future. I hope we shall hear from them again in the upcoming World Cup qualifying for Russia 2018.
"It's been a fantastic journey," said Hannes Halldorsson, Iceland's filmmaker turned goalkeeper. "Sadly, it ended tonight. Hopefully they can forgive us the loss."
Meanwhile, France move one steps closer to their 2016 European title goal and a semifinal clash with powerful Germany midweek.