Antoine Griezmann rose to hero status for France as they booked their place in the quarter finals of the Euro 2016 with two beautiful goals against the very impressive Republic of Ireland squad.
The Boys in Green made Les Bleus work hard as they took an early 1-0 lead via a Robbie Brady penalty after Paul Pogba brought down Shane Long in the very first minute of the encounter.
That moment did not faze the hosts’ supporters as they cheered on their team in loud voices but they stayed in the game, thanks to some brilliant stops from goalkeeper and Captain Hugo Lloris.
Martin O’Neill setup his team to be tactically tight and broke on counter-attack which paid off as they held a half-time lead. It was joy at the other end of the stand as Ireland fans transmitted energy to the players on the pitch with the hope that they will avenge their inability to qualify for the 2002 World Cup courtesy a dubious hand ball by Thierry Henry.
However, France proved why they are rated as massive favourites to win the tournament with a remarkable comeback in the second half.
The Antoine Griezmann show
It was a huge difference from the first half display for Griezmann as his influence grew in the game and unsurprisingly finished the game as the match-winner.
The Atletico Madrid forward raced untold a pass from Olivier Giroud and finished with aplomb from the edge of the box for the equalizer and headed in the winner from a Bacary Sagna.
He was denied a hat-trick by a series of good saves as the game ended 2-1 but his tenth goal for France will be remembered as the one they gave them passenger into the quarter-final of a unique tournament – the last that will be hosted by one country or a joint host and the first time 24 teams will be participating.
Griezmann to finish as topscorer
The former Real Sociedad star just signed a new deal with Atletico Madrid which means he will not be moving to any of his top suitors for at least next season and can concentrate on becoming the topscorer of the competition hosted on home soil.
Before the round of 16 match against the Republic of Ireland, Griemann had only scored once and was used as a substitute against Albania in France’s second Group A match as he performed below his usually standards.
However, he sprang to life when most needed during the second half of the game against Republic of Ireland.
Griezmann finished as Atletico Madrid’s topscorer last season and finishing topscorer for the Les Bleus at the European Championship will give the player a great feeling.
If the goals from Griezmann’s boot keep coming, France may just win the Euro 2016 on home soil.