Hosts France manage to negotiate a fraught semi-final clash with Germany to send the German World Champions home.
Final Score in Marseille, France 2, Germany 0.
Germany were forced into three changes from the team that started against Italy in the quarter-finals, as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Emre Can and Julian Draxler started in place of the injured Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira and the suspended Mats Hummels.
France were unchanged from the eleven that started the 5-2 mauling of Iceland last time out, with Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud paired in attack.
The hosts offered the first threat on goal on seven minutes. Striker Antoine Griezmann showed good feet to beat the German defence, but Manuel Neuer was equal to the striker’s effort on goal. Germany’s first effort of the game fell to out-of-sorts Bayern Munich star Thomas Muller who rather snatched after an effort following work by Emre Can.
Can was involved soon afterwards, as the versatile Liverpool man hit an effort that took a deflection and appeared to be heading for the bottom corner of the net, only for France ‘keeper Hugo Lloris to get down well to palm the strike away from goal.
The world champions had a penalty appeal turned down on 21 minutes, as Toni Kroos went over in the penalty area in the presence of both Samuel Umtiti and Paul Pogba. Referee Nicola Rizzoli took a look and waved play on.
France came back at Germany and Griezmann hit the side-netting from a tight angle following good work by veteran full-back Patrice Evra. France were handed the advantage, literally, in first half stoppage-time.
Dimitri Payet’s corner kick found the head of Evra, whose header hit Schweinsteiger’s arm in the penalty area. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and Schweinsteiger was shown a yellow card.
The tournament’s top scorer Griezmann stepped-up and sent Manuel Neuer the wrong way to put the hosts in front.
France came out brightly in the second half, with Olivier Giroud’s shot well blocked by Jerome Boateng, before the Arsenal striker combined with Griezmann who saw an effort on goal deflect just over the bar.
It was a comedy of errors that lead to France’s second goal on 72 minutes. Young Bayern Munich defender Joshua Kimmich gave the ball away in his own penalty area, then the experienced Neuer failed to deal with Paul Pogba’s cross and Griezmann was on hand to poke the ball into the net from close-range.
Germany came close to halving the deficit straight after the second goal, as youngster Kimmich curled an effort of the outside of the post from the edge of the French penalty area.
The hosts could have extended their lead even further, but Griezmann fired straight at Neuer when given the chance to score his hat-trick. Germany launched one last attack and it was that man Kimmich again.
The full-back saw a long-range effort saved superbly by the sprawling Lloris and that turned out to be the last meaningful effort of the game. In the end France had too much for an under-strength Germany side and will face Portugal on Sunday night in Paris.