Antoine Griezmann scored twice in four minutes as Euro 2016 hosts France came from behind to claim a 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland in Lyon on Sunday.
The goal hero said tough half-time words were exchanged at half-time to lay on the last-16 victory that means France face England or Iceland in the Stade de France quarterfinal next Sunday.
Paul Pogba brought Shane Long down within seconds of kickoff and Robbie Brady converted the penalty to put the Irish ahead with just two minutes gone.
But Griezmann underlined a superb performance as the main strike threat with two knockout goals in the second half as the hosts floored the Irish.
It was “annoying” to go behind Griezmann said. “In the dressing rooms, we had words and that brought out a different French team.”
“It was difficult for us, because there was the penalty at the start which was a bit of a shock,” French coach Didier Deschamps said, expressing relief at the fightback as French fans celebrated.
“We really only woke up after 15 minutes and now we’re going to enjoy watching to see who our quarterfinal will be.”
Ireland’s problems were compounded by playing the last 25 minutes with ten men.
Centre-back Shane Duffy was sent off on 66 minutes for bringing down Griezmann, who was through on goal.
France’s win came at a cost as both midfielder N’Golo Kante and defender Adil Rami are suspended for the quarterfinal after picking up bookings.
Defeat means more heartache for the Irish in their first meeting with France since a controversial World Cup playoff in November 2009.
Thierry Henry’s infamous handball, dubbed ‘Le Hand of God’, helped seal a 2-1 aggregate victory to send France to South Africa 2010 at Ireland’s expense.
The Irish came flying out of the traps in Lyon.
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