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Published: 15:49 | 26/6/16

Griezmann double knocks Ireland out of Euro 2016

Defensive lapses ultimately cost 10-man Ireland

Republic of Ireland are out of Euro 2016 as France came from behind to win 2-1 in their last 16 clash in Lyon.

Robbie Brady's penalty in the second minute put Martin O'Neill's side into the lead, an advantage they fully merited at the break as the Boys In Green produced a superb, assured display.

The underdogs' dreams of knocking out the hosts and booking a potential quarter-final against England looked a real possibility but France lifted their game several notches after the break.

Ireland repelled the French waves of attack until the 58th minute when Antoine Griezmann headed home a powerful header from Bacary Sagna's cross.

The host nation were ahead just three minutes later when the Atletico Madrid forward took advantage of the space presented to him by the Irish defence to rifle his second past the excellent Darren Randolph.

Ireland could have drawn level almost immediately but James McClean failed to send over a simple pass to give Daryl Murphy a tap-in from close range.

McClean, who was otherwise impressive today and throughout the tournament, then made a mess of a lay-off from a throw-in which led to a swift French attack forcing Shane Duffy to bring down Griezmann and the Blackburn defender was rightly dismissed.

The 10 men hung in bravely but with the numerical advantage and their tails up, Didier Deschamps' side closed out a narrow win and they now return to Paris for their last eight tie next Sunday.

For Ireland and their vocal, proud fans, they went out on their shield, leaving nothing out on the pitch, exiting with lots of memories from a good tournament but they will also have regrets at what might have been.

Ireland enjoyed a dream start when Long went down under the challenge of Paul Pogba and the referee pointed to the spot; man of the moment Brady made no mistake as he coolly slotted the spot-kick home off the inside of the post.

The hosts took the early blow in their stride however, with Pogba and Dmitri Payet driving the side forward - and Ireland backwards – with Griezmann heading their first decent chance over the crossbar.

On 20 minutes Ireland tested Hugo Lloris in the French goal when Daryl Murphy shot on the turn and Lloris parried his effort to his left, Jeff Hendrick followed up but his weak attempt at a pull-back went straight at the keeper.

Ireland began to push further forward with Hendrick, James McCarthy and Brady composed in midfield and Murphy and Shane Long working tirelessly up front to hold up the play.

Deschamps made a switch at the break bringing Kingsley Coman on for N’Golo Kante and within three minutes France could have been level, another Payet free-kick creating a chance but Laurent Koscielny headed wide at the back post from close range.

However, Ireland continued to threaten at the other end, a swift counter-attack leading to McClean sending in a low driven cross and Lloris was at full stretch to prevent Long from tapping in the second.

France were level on 58 minutes when Griezmann headed home a powerful effort from eight yards, giving Randolph no chance.

They were then ahead just three minutes later when a long punt forward saw Duffy follow Olivier Giroud over unnecessarily, leaving acres of space in the centre and when the Arsenal forward headed to the advancing Griezmann he took his time before burying his shot past Randolph.

With Duffy sent off it completed a nightmare nine minutes and Ireland had to re-organise with Wes Holohan and Jon Walters coming into the fray while John O'Shea came on to shore up the back four.

However, it was France substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac who came closest to adding to the scoring, smashing a curling shot off the bar before he glanced a cross wide of the target late on.

Ireland summoned up one last effort to force extra time but France's defence held steady to close out a narrow win.

The Irish players, management and supporters can leave France with their heads held high but they will know they could possibly have been extending their adventure for at least one more week.

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