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 Posted by PA Sport
Jun 30, 2014

Late show sees France past Nigeria

FranceFrance
NigeriaNigeria
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2014 FIFA World Cup Round of 16: France 2-0 Nigeria

France marched into the World Cup quarterfinals after shading an absorbing contest against Nigeria in Brasilia.

- Brewin: Pogba pounces on Enyeama error
- Keshi: Nigeria can be a wonderful team
- Deschamps: France can do better
- Brewin: Pogba lived up to the hype vs. Nigeria

Les Bleus had been kept at bay by the African side, and given a few scares of their own, until a spell of intense pressure led to Paul Pogba heading them into the lead in the 79th minute before Joseph Yobo's own goal compounded the Super Eagles' misery.

For much of the match, Nigeria keeper Vincent Enyeama, who plays his club football in France for Lille, had defied the French, but it was his unfortunate blunder that allowed Juventus star Pogba the chance.

Until then, Enyeama had been heroic -- not least with a brilliant reaction save after Mathieu Valbuena had set Pogba up for a powerfully struck volley.

With Enyeama in such form, Didier Deschamps' France side could not afford to be wasteful, and Valbuena's promptings in midfield looked like the best avenue for attack. It was the Marseille midfielder who conjured a neat layoff into Mathieu Debuchy's path only for the Newcastle full-back to send his drive wide when a goal looked odds-on.

Valbuena's fast feet saw France open up the Nigerians again, but Olivier Giroud's shot on the turn was disappointing.

It wasn't one-way traffic, however, and Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny had to be smart to block out Peter Odemwingie when the Stoke striker threatened.

Blaise Matuidi then crunched Odemwingie, and from a promising position, Emmanuel Emenike blasted the free kick high and wide. Nigeria's Fenerbahce striker then got the ball in the net with a great finish but was flagged for offside.

Emenike's power posed a threat to the French, and he stung the hands of Hugo Lloris with a fizzing shot from 25 yards.

As the game entered the final phase, France began to exert control, perhaps aided by Lazio midfielder Ogenyi Onazi departing on a stretcher after a challenge by Matuidi, who was booked.

It had been a fairly miserable game for Giroud, who had not clicked at all with Karim Benzema, and he came off just after an hour for Antoine Griezmann.

The change had an immediate impact. Benzema's one-two with Griezmann on the edge of the box came off perfectly, but Enyeama managed to take the pace out of the Real Madrid striker's shot and Victor Moses hooked it clear off the line.

France continued to press, and Benzema's cross shot was scooped clear before Yohan Cabaye came as close as anyone had to scoring when his 20-yard strike crashed off the crossbar.

Finally, France made the breakthrough. It was hugely unfortunate for Enyeama that, having been so heroic, it was his flap at Valbuena's corner that saw the ball drop nicely for Pogba to direct a header into the unguarded net.

Enyeama made up for it with another fabulous stop to keep out Griezmann's fiercely struck effort, but France were not to be denied. Griezmann's step-over from Valbuena's cross saw the ball hit the unfortunate Yobo, who had broken Nigeria's World Cup appearance record, on the shin and roll into the net.

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