France are into the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup after defeating Nigeria 2-0 in Brasilia today.
Les Bleus played a patient game to eventually overrun the Super Eagles with a Paul Pogba header and an own-goal from Joseph Yobo doing the damage.
After failing to produce too much in their final third, France started to turn on the pressure in the final 15 minutes and it paid off just over 10 minutes from time when Pogba broke the deadlock.
The Juventus midfielder was in the right place at the right time to send a looping header home after Mathieu Valbuena’s corner had been palmed away by Vincent Enyeama and into the path of the waiting Frenchman.
France were by far the better side in the second half and deservedly grabbed a second goal although it was in cruel circumstances for Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo who was playing in a record 10th World Cup appearance for his country.
A short corner saw Mathieu Valbuena send a low cross towards Antoine Griezmann and as Enyeama advanced, the ball took a touch off the leg of Yobo and found its way into the back of the net in injury-time.
Earlier, Nigeria thought they had scored when Emmanuel Emenike slotted home a lovely through ball from Ahmed Musa but he was flagged offside for being half a step offside.
This came prior to Enyeama’s first fine save of the day to deny Pogba’s vicious volley after he had played a neat one-two with Valbuena.
Late in the first half, France skipper Hugo Lloris was forced into a desperate save when Emenike hit a dangerous dipping effort at an awkward height before Peter Odemwingie blasted a blistering effort on target.
After cutting back inside from the right, the Stoke City striker fired goalward, which forced another decent save from Lloris who had to get down low to keep out the bouncing ball.
France’s best chances – apart from the Pogba volley – all came late with Benzema seeing his 70th-minute effort cleared off the line by Victor Moses after a delightful give-and-go with Griezmann.
Seven minutes later, an attempted headed clearance from Kenneth Omeruo dropped to Yohan Cabaye who hit a sweet volley into the woodwork before Enyeama did brilliantly to tip Benzema’s goal-bound header over the crossbar.
Five minutes after the Pogba goal, the impressive Enyeama came up with another world-class save to thwart Griezmann’s well-timed strike but his efforts were to no avail as Nigeria were sent packing from the competition.
It was the fifth time in their past seven World Cup outings that France have qualified for at least the quarter-finals
as they prepare for a potential final eight meeting with Germany who take on Algeria later today.
For Nigeria, they equalled their best-ever result of making it to the Round of 16 but will now head home after winning once, drawing once and losing twice in Brazil.
France: 2 (Paul Pogba 79’, Joseph Yobo (og) 90+2’)
Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha, Brasilia – 67,882
Yellow cards: FRA - Blaise Matuidi 54’
NGA - nil
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