MATCHDAY 15: France, Germany And Belgium Reach The Quarter Finals

Match day 15 featured three more games from the Round of 16 stage, first of which was played between France and the Republic of Ireland. The hosts won the game 2-1.

Republic of Ireland got off to a fantastic start, as they were awarded a penalty after Shane Long got fouled inside the box in the 2nd minute. Robbie Brady converted from the spot, giving his country an early lead.

But the Frenchmen hit back in the second half, and Antoine Griezmann scored a delightful headed goal in the 57th minute to pull his team level. And just three minutes later, Griezmann struck again – this time scoring with a clinical finish.

Republic of Ireland’s Shane Duffy got sent off in the 66th minute, reducing his side down to ten men. On the other hand, France midfielder N’Golo Kante and defender Adil Rami both picked up their second yellow cards of the tournament, and will therefore miss France’s upcoming quarter final game.

Antoine Griezmann was named the man of the match for his match-winning brace.

He had the following to say in the post-match interview: “We struggled to get into the game and we still have a long way to go, so we will need to improve. But we are going to enjoy this and make the most of it… My family were in the stands as Lyon is basically my home town so that adds to it. I hope to be able to continue in this vein and to help the team.”

Republic of Ireland defender Seamus Coleman also had his say: “We are just so disappointed at the minute. I suppose that shows how well we have done. I just felt like it was there for us today. Our fans were unbelievable and we’d love to go a bit further for them, but we hope we made people proud because our fans are amazing and everyone back home is amazing.”

The hosts will face either England, or Iceland, in the next round on Sunday.

The second game of match day 15 was played between Germany and Slovakia, which the Germans convincingly won 3-0.

Defender Jerome Boateng opened the scoring for Germany just 8 minutes into the game by scoring a volleyed goal from 25 yards out. Germany then won a penalty in the 14th minute, which Arsenal play-maker Mesut Ozil failed to convert.

Mario Gomez added the second goal by slotting in a wonderful Julian Draxler assist from close range just 2 minutes before half-time, and Draxler then scored the third with a high volley from the near post in the 63rd minute.

For bagging an assist and scoring a goal, Draxler was named the man of the match.

In the post-match interview, he stated: “I am happy that I put in a good performance today and that I was able to help the team. It is hard for me to say if this was my best or second-best game in a Germany shirt. Others can judge that better.

“We have a very capable side. So it’s no problem if you are not playing in one game or the other. I tried not to let it get to me and to show in training that the coach could count on me. In the team talk the coach told me to look for one-on-ones. He has given me a lot of confidence and made it clear to me that I am a good player.”

Slovakian goalkeeper Matus Kozacik also had his say following the defeat: “We feel sorry because, from the beginning, the Germans dominated. We did not make them suffer at all. It is a pity. Perhaps after we defeated them in the [pre-Euros friendly], they prepared better. They played in a disciplined way and showed their greatness.

“If Kucka could have scored, we might have done something but their second goal was decisive. We have achieved a lot, I am very happy I could be here. After some time, we will appreciate it even more.”

The World Champions will play their next game against either Spain, or Italy, in Bordeaux on Saturday.

The final game of match day 15 saw the Belgians hammer Hungary 4-0.

Toby Alderweireld opened the scoring with his headed goal 10 minutes after kick-off. The second goal of the game came directly in the 78th minute, as Michu Batshuayi tapped in an Eden Hazard cross. A minute later, Hazard himself got on the score sheet by scoring a well-placed finish after a dazzling run, and Yannick Carrasco scored the fourth in stoppage time, capping off a sublime performance.

Despite Hazard’s brilliance, it was Kevin De Bruyne who was named the man of the match for leading the attack and providing two assists.

Belgium boss Marc Wilmots was delighted with the win, and said: “We should have been at least 3-0 up at half-time. We kept the game at 1-0 too long. We scored the second and third goals very quickly, but we needed a lot of chances. In big games you don’t get as many chances, you get punished. I told my players to be patient. Often in training, we do two-touch passing. In Brazil you asked me why and today you see why. You can move the ball very quickly.”

He also pointed out the individual performance of the game’s man of the match, by saying: “I have to say Kevin De Bruyne, every time he lost the ball he made the effort to come back and that’s what makes the side strong. When we don’t have the ball we don’t allow many chances.”

Hungary manager Bernd Storck used his post-match interview to congratulate Belgium: “We knew we were coming up against terrific opposition. I have to congratulate the team for their performance throughout the championships. We have a positive view of the future.”

Belgium will next lock horns with Wales in the quarter finals on Friday.

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