THEY led for 57 minutes but in the end it wasn’t to be for the Republic of Ireland and its Euro adventure is sadly over.
In the space of three minutes, the match was turned on its head with two goals for the French.
But the Boys in Green can be hugely proud of their tournament performances over the past few weeks, cheered on by their travelling army of fans.
In the second half, France piled on the pressure after losing 1-0 from the first half from a Robbie Brady penalty in the first few minutes.
And Antoine Griezmann broke Ireland’s heart with a brace in the space of a few minutes.
On 58 minutes Griezmann fired in a thundering header which flashed past Ireland keeper Darren Randolph.
Three minutes later he slotted home from a Giroud knock down to make it two it.
Then disaster struck on 66 minutes when Griezmann was through on goal when Derry’s Shane Duffy brought him down on the edge of the Irish box.
And for saving a near certain goal, Duffy took a red card for his team, leaving the Republic down to ten men.
Manager Martin O’Neill decided to shore up the defence and brought on John O’Shea and took off Creggan lad James McClean who had a strong game on the left wing.
Just before Griezmann’s first goal, Darren Randolph pulled off a great save on 55 minutes to deny a rifling left foot drive from Matuidi.
Shane Long picked up a yellow card on 73 minutes which meant he would miss the next match if Ireland qualified.
France didn’t take their feet off the pedal and went in search of a third goal to make sure of their win.
Gignac rattled the Irish cross bar on 76 minutes with keeper Randolph well beat.
And Randolph pulled off another great save on 80 mins when Matuidi tried to sneak a goal in at the Ireland keeper’s near post.
Gignac nearly made it three on 85 minutes when he missed a chance and put the game to bed.
Seconds later Ireland went up the pitch and substitute Walters flashed a drive past the French goal. So close to an equaliser.
And two minutes into injury time, Griezmann was through on goal for a hat trick but was denied by the brilliant Randolph again.
And when the ref blew the whistle on 93 minutes, the Irish dream was over.
The Irish players were out on their feet after chasing down the game with just 10 men for over 30 minutes.
But well played to the Boys in Green.
You did Ireland proud and you can hold your heads up high.
France now meet either England or Iceland who play on Monday.
HALF TIME MATCH REPORT:
THE REPUBLIC of Ireland took a 1-0 win in at half time in their crunch game against France.
Shane Long was knocked over in the box just after 1 minute of the game starting in Lyon.
And the hero of the Italian game Robbie Brady stepped and slotted it home from the penalty spot – with the help of the post.
Shane Duffy nearly made it 2-0 on 40 minutes but his header went past the keeper’s post.
Donegal’s Seamus Coleman, the captain courageous, picked up a yellow card for a first half foul.
Jeff Hendrick also picked up a yellow card for kicking the ball away and will miss the quarter final if Ireland beat France.
There was heroic defending in the final four minutes of added time in the first half as France piled on the pressure on Randolph’s goal.
Shane Duffy threw himself at a goal-bound shot and his block saved a near equaliser for the French.Tags: