Antoine Griezmann scored twice to help hosts France beat Ireland 2-1 and reach the quarterfinals of European Championship on Sunday.
Griezman cancelled out a 1-0 lead of Ireland with a header in the second half and then scored the winner three minutes later.
France coach Didier Deschamps: “I knew it was going to be a difficult match, and when Ireland took the lead it made us a bit more uncomfortable in the first half. They showed a lot of enthusiasm but we had to dig deep, get through the situation and get in front.”
“We don’t do everything well – no team has done,” he added. “It’ s a very even European Championship. This team is giving a lot of emotion to the crowd and making everybody fall in love with them. There’s lots of emotion here in Lyon and we really need this great support from the fans.”
Ireland took a surprise 1-0 lead after only two minutes when France midfielder Paul Pogba made a foul on Shane Long from behind and Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli immediately pointed at the penalty spot.
Robbie Brady, who plays for English Championship side Norwich City, stepped in to fire a low penalty into France keeper Hugo Lloris’s left-hand post.
France looked nervous in front of a watching President Francois Hollande but they soon controlled the game and their attacking trio of Olivier Giroud, Dimitri Payet and Griezmann regained sharpness as expected.
In the 58th minute, Payet found Bacary Sagna on the right wing and the Manchester City right back crossed for Griezmann to head home on the penalty spot.
Only three minutes later, Arsenal forward Giroud nodded the ball right in the path of racing Griezmann, who slid the ball home with his left foot.
Ireland defender Shane Duffy was shown a red card in the 66th minute after making a desperate, last-man challenge on the Atletico Madrid man, who was making a solo run and looked sure to complete a hat-trick.
France should have added a few more goals against the 10-man Ireland but thanks to West Ham goal keeper Darren Randolph’s brave performance, they failed to extend the lead but it was enough to put them into the last eight.
Martin O’Neill, the manager of Ireland manager, was disappointed after losing the match and also gave credit to the players.
“It’s a natural disappointment considering the position we got ourselves into, and you look at the goals we conceded. Another six or seven minutes – and I know that’s a long time – without conceding and France might have got panicky.
“The players couldn’t have put anything more into the game, not an ounce left. The tournament has been great for the players, some of the younger players taking their place on this stage, and naturally for the supporters.”
Didier Deschamps’s side are now unbeaten in their last 16 games at major tournaments on home soil. The hosts next face the winner of another match between England and Iceland, which will be held in Nice on Monday.