Euro 2016: Antoine Griezmann Revels in the Spotlight for France

Antoine Griezmann
Antoine Griezmann scored two goals Thursday against Germany to lead France into the Euro 2016 final against Portugal. Lars Baron/Getty

Antoine Griezmann is growing into the little man for the big occasions.

The majority of the 67,000 fans in the Stade Velodrome roared with delight Thursday as the French forward scored his fifth and sixth goals of Euro 2016 to fire his nation into the final.

Paul Pogba was set to be the star man of the tournament for France, expected to emulate the success of Zinedine Zidane in 1998 when Les Bleus last won the World Cup on home soil. But Griezmann has stolen the show.

Dropped by Didier Deschamps for the second game of group A, the Atletico Madrid forward has returned with a vengeance, to the benefit of the host nation.

Six goals now at the tournament —surpassing compatriot Michel Platini's record of five —and two assists, Griezmann is the hot favorite for player of the tournament. Watch out, Portugal.

He was at it from the off in Marseille. Some neat footwork and a one-two with Blaise Matuidi saw the 25-year-old running at the German defence. He skipped past Mesut Ozil, then Benedikt Howedes, before looking to place a shot in the bottom corner. Manuel Neuer, however, was equal to it.

Griezmann spent much of the first half chasing down the opposition, though. This was Germany's 20th semifinal in 26 major tournaments, eliminating seven host nations along the way. This is where the world champions feel most at home.

Thomas Muller, who —surprisingly—is yet to score in the tournament, turned an Emre Can cross just wide after 12 minutes. Can was involved again a minute later when Ozil cut the ball back to him on the edge of the box, with the Liverpool midfielder forcing Hugo Lloris to save low to his right. Bastian Schweinsteiger shot from distance. Toni Kroos too.

Pass. Pass. Pass. The French fatigued as they chased the Germans around their own half, Joachim Low's side enjoying 70 percent of possession. It was domineering.

But, somehow, France went in ahead. A corner kick moments before halftime saw Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli pointing to the spot as he adjudged Bastian Schweinsteiger to have handled in the area.

France appeared surprised; Germany was bemused. Up stepped Griezmann, who missed his spot kick in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in May. This time he made no mistake, sending Neuer the wrong way and France toward the final.

We were treated to the Griezmann jig, inspired by singer Drake's "Hotline Bling" video, which is becoming an iconic feature of this tournament.

The troops were energized further at half time by Deschamps. They returned with rediscovered vigor, and Griezmann demanded more from the fans after sending a shot into the sidenetting.

They responded and Griezmann gave them what they wanted midway through the second half. A lovely piece of footwork by Pogba from the left saw the Juventus midfielder deliver a cross into the area. Neuer, so commonly reliable, spilled the save and Griezmann pounced, prodding it into an empty net.

Germany was not going to spoil the party this time.

With victory in sight, Griezmann was withdrawn by Deschamps, allowing the mass of French support to display their gratitude to the striker.

Small in height but not in stature, it may be Griezmann who's ready to fill the legendary boots of Zidane.