Monday 5 December 2016

Giroud on the mark as France beat Germany

Jamie Holland

Published 14/11/2015 | 02:30

St Patrick's Athletic's Greg Bolger
St Patrick's Athletic's Greg Bolger

Euro 2016 hosts France beat Germany 2-0 in Paris courtesy of goals from Olivier Giroud and Andre-Pierre Gignac, but the victory was overshadowed by events outside the ground and elsewhere in the French capital.

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The French, missing Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena after a sex-tape scandal, went ahead in first-half stoppage time when Olivier Giroud converted Anthony Martial's cutback and Andre-Pierre Gignac added the second in the 86th minute as the game was played out in an eerie atmosphere.

Germany failed to put in a fighting performance, as promised, to restore some pride, with the national association locked in a 2006 World Cup scandal.

The only positive they could take from the night was the return of Mario Gomez, making his comeback after more than 14 months, having missed their victorious World Cup campaign through injury.

Arjen Robben showed his pedigree as Holland spoiled the start of Wales' Euro 2016 build-up with a 3-2 victory in Cardiff.

Bayern Munich star Robben struck twice in the second half after Bas Dost had put Holland ahead with a 32nd-minute header.

Wales' attacking edge suffered as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey were both missing through injury but Joe Ledley, following in after Joe Allen's penalty had been saved, and substitute Emyr Huws produced equalisers in an entertaining contest.

Captain Steven Davis returned to the scene of his finest hour for Northern Ireland and again played match-winner as Michael O'Neill's men ended their long wait for a friendly victory with a 1-0 success over Latvia.

A month after scoring twice against Greece to book his side a place at Euro 2016, Davis was back at Windsor Park to secure a deserved win.

Remarkably, Northern Ireland last won a non-competitive fixture in March 2008 - 23 games ago - and it has taken O'Neill 11 attempts to put an end to that sorry sequence.

The world's new number one side, Belgium, produced an impressive second-half display as they completed a comeback to beat Italy 3-1 in Brussels.

Antonio Candreva had given Italy a third-minute lead but that was quickly cancelled out by Jan Vertonghen.

Kevin De Bruyne gave Belgium the lead with a shot that bounced over Gianluigi Buffon's head after 74 minutes and Michy Batshuayi then wrapped up the win.

Twice

The prolific Robert Lewandowski struck twice in the final 14 minutes as Poland beat Iceland 4-2 in Warsaw. The score had been locked at 2-2 before the Bayern Munich star's intervention.

Slovakia survived a Switzerland fightback in Trnava to claim a 3-2 win.

Two goals from Michal Duris and another from Robert Mak inside 55 minutes put the hosts in control but the Swiss produced a fighting finish as Eren Derdiyok and Josip Drmic replied.

Greece, humbled in Euro qualifying as they finished bottom of their group, suffered another dismal result as they were beaten 1-0 in Luxembourg.

Meanwhile, Cork City have completed the long anticipated signing of St Patrick's Athletic midfielder Greg Bolger.

Long-serving trio Liam Kearney, John O'Flynn and Billy Dennehy have parted company with the Leesiders.

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