France will face either Germany or Algeria in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup after Paul Pogba, and an own goal from Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo deep in stoppage time, helped Les Blues into the last eight at the Estadio Nacional, Brazilla in Monday’s early kick-off.
Emmanuel Emenike had the ball in the France goal on 19 minutes but the striker was marginally, but correctly, offside. Midfielder Pogba came closest for the French in the first-half with a superb volley from a Mathieu Valbuena cross but Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama pulled off a superb reaction save. Pogba had started the move in midfield, driving towards the Nigerian goal spreading the ball wide for Valbuena.
The Nigerians had a blatant penalty waved away from American referee Mark Geiger after the half hour mark. Manchester United and French full-back Patrice Evra clearly had both hands around Peter Odemwengie as the ball was played in from a corner but, bizarrely, the New Jersey referee didn’t award the penalty.
The early part of the second-half was controlled by Nigeria and France found chances hard to come by. French midfielder Blaise Matuidi could have seen red for his lunge on Ogenyi Onaz as the midfielder left the pitch on a stretcher.
Karim Benzema was playing on the left of a front three with Oliver Giroud in the centre but their partnership was ineffectual. Giroud had a poor game and France only really began to play when Arsenal man was replaced by Aontoine Greizmann on 62 minutes.
With Giroud out of the way, chances for France began to increase and Benzema should have put his team one up on 67 minutes. The Real Madrid player played a one two with Greizmann at the edge of the box but Enyeama pulled off a great save to deny France’s top scorer his fifth goal of the tournament.
The pressure was increasing and two minutes later, Valbeuna hit the cross bar with an audacious attempt from 30 yards and Benzema saw a free header, again, saved by Enyeama.
From that corner the brilliant Enyeama made a horror mistake, flapping at a high ball leaving Pogba with the simplest of tasks to give France the lead with ten minutes to go.
Greizmann could have sealed the win but saw his long range effort saved over the bar. The Monaco winger was also involved in the second goal. Valbuena’s low cross was meant for Greizmann but Joesph Yobo kneed the ball into his own net and France were through.
FRANCE: Hugo Lloris; Mathieu Debuchy, Raphael Varane, Laurent Koscielny, Patrice Evra; Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi , Yohan Cabaye; Mathieu Valbuena, Olivier Giroud, Karim Benzema
Subs not used: Morgan Schneiderlin, Mamadou Sakho, Bacary Sagna, Stephane Ruffier, Loic Rémy, Rio Mavuba, Eliaquim Mangala, Mickael Landreau, Lucas Digne, Remy Cabella.
Booked: Blaise Matuidi
NIGERIA: Vincent Enyeama; Efe Ambrose, Joseph Yobo, Juwon Oshaniwa, Kenneth Omeruo; Ahmed Musa, John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi, Victor Moses; Peter Odemwingie, Emmanuel Emenike.
Subs Not used: Ejike Uzoenyi, Michael Uchebo, Kunle Odunlam, Godfrey Oboabona, EjideAzubuike, EgwuekweMichel, Babatunde, Ramon Azeez, Shola Ameobi, Chigozie Agbim
Referee: Mark Geigr
Extratime.ie Player of the match: Matthew Valbeuna
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