Patrice Evra says France’s players were willing to “die on the pitch” in order to beat the Republic of Ireland in the round of 16 tie at Euro 2016.
After Robbie Brady put Ireland ahead in less than two minutes, France eventually rallied to win 2-1, thanks to Antoine Griezmann’s brace.
And Juventus left-back Evra admits the hosts were below par in the first half, but praised Martin O’Neill’s side.
”It was difficult, that’s why I want to congratulate the Irish team because they were tough and it was a great game. They played a good tournament and all the fans and the Irish people should be proud of their team,” he told ITV Sport.
“We knew it would be difficult, no one game is easy in this tournament and I knew it would be difficult today and with the win I am really happy with my team-mates but as I say I congratulate all of the Irish players.
“In the first half we didn’t play our football, so in the second half we said ‘we are at home, we can’t go out of this tournament and we should play our football with a lot of personality and try to win the game’.
”We were confident to not go out of this competition but we knew that if we had to die on the pitch, then that’s what we’ll do.”
France will now face the winner of England and Iceland in the quarter-finals, and former Manchester United defender Evra admits he would relish the opportunity to play against some old teammates.
”It (England) would be a tough game again but we should stop saying it will be England, let’s see,” he added.
“They play against Iceland and they are really difficult. But if it is England it will be a special game for me because I have some great memories of English football and Manchester United.
“I played nine years there and it would be special to see some of my ex teammates like Wazza (Wayne Rooney).”