By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – France are through to the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup after a 2-0 win over Nigeria at the Estádio Mané Garrincha this afternoon (July 30th). A Paul Pogba header and Joseph Yobo own goal were enough to see Les Bleus through, and the team will face the winners of the Germany versus Algeria clash due to kick-off at 5PM.
Nigeria put up a stubborn resistance but lacked a clinical finisher in attack to threaten the French goal. Victor Moses in particular was guilty of wasting chances when given a sight of the net, and in the end was forced to rue those wasted opportunities.
Nigeria thought they had taken the lead in the first half when Emenike touched the ball home but the linesman had already raised his flag for offside. Meanwhile, Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema failed to develop a proper understanding up front for France, as they toiled to break down a well drilled Nigerian defense.
After scoring eight goals in their first two games France’s attacking efficiency has come up short against two sides, Ecuador and Nigeria, willing to sit back and soak up pressure. During the first half Nigeria played more cohesive football but without a consistent center forward they were left with nothing to show for their efforts.
In the second half Benzema remained in a more central role while Giroud dropped back to help Mathieu Valbuena in attacking midfield. Benzema was put through on goal by Griezmann but goalkeeper Enyeama managed to make the save and Moses cleared the rebound off the line.
France were now applying the pressure. Cabaye sent a long-range drive crashing against the crossbar before Benzema almost gave them the lead with a header. The Europeans finally managed to break the deadlock on 79 minutes. Enyeama came for a corner he could never reached, failed to catch the ball and Pogba headed the ball into an unguarded net.
In injury time, Joesph Yobo turned Valbuena’s low cross into his own goal to put the result beyond doubt. France took their time but finally found their rhythm.
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