France manager Didier Deschamps has made four changes to his side that drew 0-0 with Switzerland in their last match with Dimitri Payet, Blaise Matuidi, N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud all returning to the starting XI.
Martin O’Neill named an unchanged side from their 1-0 win over Italy, with Wes Hoolahan dropped to the bench again.
Ireland shocked the home supporters when referee Nicola Rizzoli awarded a penalty inside opening two minutes after Shane Long fell into the penalty box from a Paul Pogba’s challenge from behind.
Robbie Brady stepped up and cooly slotted home with Hugo Lloris moving in the opposite direction. With that, he scored the fastest goal so far at Euro 2016 and became only the second player to score more than one goal at a major tournament for Ireland after Robbie Keane in World Cup 2002.
France, after an early setback, started controlling the midfield and created a good early opportunity with Pogba from the left producing a brilliant cross but Antoine Griezmann couldn’t keep the header down.
The Atletico forward came close to scoring again and got on the end of a Payet free kick but once again guided the ball straight into the arms of Randolph.
Griezmann, who came under criticism for his lacklustre displays so far in this tournament, tried his luck from long distance but hits straight into the arms of Randolph. Minutes later Pogba whipped in a dangerous free kick from 30 yards out, but the Irish goalkeeper had it covered brilliantly.
Ireland at this point were happy to soak all the pressure and tried to hit on the counter. They were growing in confidence, with Shane Duffy heading just wide from a free kick.
Towards the end of the first half, France had a golden opportunity to equalise when both Payet and Griezmann’s effort were blocked in quick succession before the ball being cleared.
Deschamps made a smart change in the second half – Kante, who will miss the quarterfinal due to suspension, was replaced by Kingsley Coman – with France changing their system to a more attacking 4-2-4.
Pogba heads a Payet free kick on to Laurent Koscielny, but the Arsenal defender could not put a shot on frame. In the 54th minute, Matuidi tried his luck from 25 yards out, but Randolph was equalled to the task and palms it out for a corner.
The pressure was mounting. It felt like France would score anytime and they finally got the all important equaliser through Griezmann. Payet spread out a lovely diagonal ball to Sagna, who produced a sublime cross and Antoine Griezmann planted a thumping header into the back of the net from 12 yards to level things.
And moments later, the hosts went 2-1 up, with Griezmann scoring his second of the day. Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud knocks down a cross and Griezmann who was totally unmarked in the box finished with great aplomb.
The momentum of the match now swung in favour of France and it went from bad to worse for Ireland after Shane Duffy was sent off for fouling Griezmann, denying him a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity.
Andre Pierre-Gignac, who replaced Giroud, nearly got his name on the scoresheet, after his curler from the edge of the box smacked against the bar. In the 85th minute, Matuidi from the left delivered a nice low cross from Gignac, who tried to flick into the far post, but narrowly missed the target.
Moments later Gignac found himself in a great scoring position from six yards out after Coman picked him with a lovely pass from the right, but yet again he couldn’t hit the target.
Griezmann should have scored in the dying minutes of the match after Payet found him in space but Randolph produces a good stop to deny Griezmaan his hat-trick.