France were held last night by an inspired Ecuador side 0-0 in Rio de Janiero but had done enough in the previous two games to ensure qualification was already secured.
France went into the game with eight goals scored in two games, their joint highest after two games, tied with the 1958 World Cup. However, last night their goal scoring success was equalled by Alexander Dominguez in the Ecuador goal. France had a total of 21 shots, with nine of those on target, with each of those easily saved by Dominguez.
France were much changed
France had made six changes to the squad that was looking to rest players ahead the knockout stages. Out of the eight representatives from Ligue 1, only two started. Blaize Matuidi of PSG started his third game of the World Cup whilst his Parisian teammate Lucas Digne started his first of the tournament. Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Valbeuna, who has been so influential to the French success so far, were left on the bench.
Matuidi looked as dangerous as ever, as he tried to double his goal scoring tally for the tournament. The French midfield was still as imposing as it has been throughout the tournament as often found space to set up some fantastic passing moves.
Dominguez denies again
Matuidi had a fantastic opportunity denied by Dominguez after linking up well with Karim Benzema, threading the ball through the Ecuador defence. Matuidi made way for Olivier Giroud in the 67th minute as France through on more attacking minded players to try and get a result.
Lucas Digne controlled the flanks well, as was responsible for creating some of the 36 crosses that France attempted. He was lucky to avoid a serious injury after Antonio Valencia of Manchester United misjudged a tackle.
Valencia’s foot slide over the ball connecting with Digne’s left leg, just below the knee. Valencia was given a straight red card, his second in four international matches and the fifth to be shown in the last seven games in which France have played.
Ecuador battled bravely
Ecuador, at times, looked difficult to play against especially going forward as they tried to get the result that would send them into the qualifying round. Unfortunately for the South American side, with the other result in the group going against them, it means that they exit the tournament.
The Swiss finish runners up after beating Honduras 3-0 with Bayern Munich’s Xherdan Shaqiri scoring the tournament’s second hat. The French will now face Nigeria on Monday, with Switzerland playing Argentina.
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