France reach quarter-finals

france

France reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup as Paul Pogba’s header and Joseph Yobo’s own goal knocked out Nigeria in Brasilia.

Nigeria’s Emmanuel Emenike had a first-half goal ruled out for offside before Vincent Enyeama saved Pogba’s volley.

Victor Moses cleared Karim Benzema’s shot off the line after the break and Yohan Cabaye volleyed against the bar.

Pogba headed home after Enyeama’s misjudgement before Yobo diverted Mathieu Valbuena’s cross into the net.

France will play the winners of Monday night’s match between Algeria and Germany in the quarter-finals at the Maracana on Friday.

The final scoreline was harsh on Nigeria, who dominated for large parts of the second half, but late mistakes from their tiring players ensured they will have to wait for their first ever quarter-final appearance in a World Cup.

France have pedigree in the knockout rounds having reached at least the semi-finals on the last five occasions they have progressed past the first round at the World Cup.

their group victory over Bosnia-Hercegovina their only World Cup win in 11 matches, this tie was always going to prove a big ask.

But, attacking with pace down the wings through both Moses and Ahmed Musa, the Super Eagles looked threatening early on. Only a flag for offside denied the powerful Emenike the opener, when he tapped home Musa’s cross.

Nigeria’s goalkeeper Enyeama made the most saves of any goalkeeper in the group phase and had to be alert again to keep out Pogba’s fierce close-range volley as the play swept from end to end in a first half that saw both sides look vulnerable defensively.

Juventus’s Pogba was being afforded a lot of space but, as was the case all over the pitch, the final ball was all too often wasteful with Mathieu Debuchy’s shot wide the only other notable attempt in a half that promised more than it delivered.

France, the 2006 runners-up, did not make it past the group stage in South Africa four years ago but they appear to be much more united as a squad in this tournament.

That togetherness was needed as Nigeria controlled the opening stages of the second half and only a sharp stop from Hugo Lloris prevented Peter Odemwingie’s low shot from giving the Africans the lead.

Against the run of play Benzema almost gave France the lead. The Real Madrid man played a neat one-two with Antoine Griezmann before seeing his shot partially blocked by Enyeama and then hacked off the line by Moses.

The introduction of Griezmann for Olivier Giroud saw France emerge more as an attacking force, with Benzema playing more centrally, and the breakthrough came when Pogba headed into an empty net after Enyeama had misjudged Valbuena’s corner.

And, as Nigeria pushed for a leveller, Joseph Yobo flicked Valbuena’s low cross into his own net on the day he surpassed Jay-Jay Okocha’s record of nine World Cup matches for the Super Eagles.