Two goals in four minutes from Antoine Griezmann kept alive France's UEFA EURO 2016 hopes and finally ended the resistance of a dogged Republic of Ireland in Lyon.
France had not fallen behind in any of their first three games – yet within two minutes that had changed. Shane Long went down after tangling with Paul Pogba and Robbie Brady sent Hugo Lloris the wrong way from the spot. It was the earliest penalty goal in EURO history.
The noise from the home fans paused briefly but then reignited as there was a positive response on and off the pitch. However, while Darren Randolph was kept busy he was rarely extended – unlike Lloris, who sprang full length to his left to keep out Daryl Murphy's effort.
As the first half wore on, France increasingly struggled to break down the massed Irish rearguard – epitomised in the final seconds when first Dimtri Payet and then Griezmann had shots blocked.
France, however, emerged after half-time with renewed purpose and turned the match on its head either side of the hour. The hosts finally levelled in the 58th minute as Bacary Sagna, who had regularly been allowed space down the right, picked out Griezmann with his cross; the header was unerring.
Three minutes later, Olivier Giroud's header found the Atlético Madrid forward on the edge of the area and his low strike gave Randolph no chance. Griezmann looked set to complete a quick hat-trick having been set clear by Giroud again in the 65th minute but Shane Duffy's desperate trip denied him, at the cost of a red card for the centre-back.
Les Bleus sought to wrap it up, substitute André-Pierre Gignac first being rebuffed by Randolph then rattling the crossbar. The No10 went close twice more in the final stages and Griezmann fired straight at the goalkeeper, but France had already done enough.
Man of the match: Antoine Griezmann (France)
Born in Macon, 65km north of Lyon, Griezmann has always seemed inspired on his return to his home ground. His stunning volley at the old Stade de Gerland helped Real Sociedad into the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League group stage at OL's expense – and he found Lyon's new stadium to his liking too.
Les Bleus dig deep
Not for the first time in this tournament, Didier Deschamps' side found themselves having to break down a massed opposition defence – and one which had the bonus of an early lead to defend. Once again, they came up with the answers and played some wonderfully fluid, attacking football in the second period, although a failure to take more of their opportunities will be a lingering concern.
No fewer than eight of the 22 players who started this game knew that a yellow card would rule them out of the quarter-final should their team get there – so it was almost inevitable that at least a couple would fall foul of the rules. While the cautions for Ireland's Jeff Hendrick and Shane Long are irrelevant now, France will be without two key defensive players on 3 July – N'Golo Kanté and Adil Rami.
Ireland bow out with heads held high
Ireland have never won two matches at a major tournament, but their disciplined first 45 minutes, and Brady's penalty, suggested that might be about to change. Martin O'Neill's men were blown away by Griezmann's quickfire double, however, but remained in with a shout right to the final whistle.
Reporters' views from Stade de Lyon
David Crossan, France (@UEFAcomDavidC)
It was a real game of two halves for France. Woeful in the first, they picked up after switching to 4-2-3-1 at the break. Stretching the Irish defence led to chances and Griezmann converted them, salvaging what had been a disappointing personal display before Les Bleus' equaliser. The main thing for the hosts is that they made it through. Deschamps faces a quarter-final headache, however, with Rami and Kanté suspended.
Paul Bryan, Republic of Ireland (@UEFAcomPaulB)
Ireland's admirable first-half efforts were undone by some slack defending in the second. Going a goal and then a man down in a short second-half capitulation against an France side that improved as the game progressed was too much for O'Neill's team.
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