France will take on Portugal in Sunday’s Euro 2016 final after a brace from Antoine Griezmann, who has now scored six goals over the course of the tournament, inspired Les Bleus.
Although Germany controlled proceedings in the first half, a stoppage time penalty from the Atletico Madrid man put one French foot in the final, before he added the second after the break.
The 2-0 result means that a host nation will contest the European Championship final for the first time since Portugal did so in 2004, and it is the Portuguese who will provide the last hurdle for Didier Deshcamps’ side.
Buoyed by the rocking Stade Velodrome crowd, France started brightly in the opening 10 minutes, even forcing Manuel Neuer into a stretching low save in the sixth minute following impressive interplay between Blaise Matuidi and Griezmann.
However, after that initial burst of energy, the world champions began to dominate the match.
Hugo Lloris – who became the first ever French goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet against the Germans at a major tournament – had to make smart stops to deny an Emre Can half volley and a dipping shot from Bastian Schweinsteiger – who became the footballer with the most major international tournament appearances in history, with 38.
Joachim Low’s side failed to make the most of their control, though, and were made to pay the price for it when Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli awarded the host nation a penalty just as the opening period ticked into stoppage time.
Schweinsteiger bizarrely stuck a hand in the air to punch away a cross and the official was alert to it, giving Griezmann the chance to become the first French player since Alain Giresse in 1982 to score against Germany at a major tournament.
It was a chance the 25-year-old didn’t pass up; he blasted the ball into the left-hand side of Neuer’s net with the last kick of the first half.
Although Die Mannschaft began to once again monopolise possession after the break, France were able to hold firm, backed by a chorus of La Marseillaise.
Deschamps brought on N’Golo Kante for Dimitri Payet in the 72nd minute in an attempt to lock down the win, but was pleasantly surprised one minute later when his side’s title ambitions were further boosted by a second goal to provide added insurance.
Paul Pogba made the most of a mix-up in the German backline to steal away the ball, toyed with Joshua Kimmich at the edge of the area and then chipped a cross into the centre, which Neuer flapped at to allow Griezmann slot away his sixth goal of the tournament and inch further ahead on the Golden Boot charts.
More importantly for Griezmann and company is that France will have the opportunity to replicated their 1998 home soil tournament win.
The final against Portugal takes place on Sunday evening at the Stade de France.