Thursday, Jul 19, 2018

France beat Uruguay 2-0 to reach semi-finals

France beat Uruguay 2-0 to reach semi-finals
06 Jul
2018

France are into the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 2006 after seeing off Uruguay with the help of a terrible error by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

In terms of excitement, this quarter-final tie did not come close to Les Bleus’ win over Argentina in the last 16 but will still be remembered for the contrasting fates of the two goalkeepers, with Hugo Lloris producing a contender for save of the tournament while his opposite number made a mistake that was even more memorable.

Raphael Varane headed France into a first-half lead from a free-kick that came straight off the training field, with Antoine Griezmann checking his run before delivering the perfect cross for the Real Madrid defender to glance home.

Uruguay, with injured striker Edinson Cavani failing to even make the bench, almost struck back immediately from a free-kick of their own, but Lloris produced a brilliant diving stop to deny Martin Caceres, before Diego Godin blasted the rebound over.

The second half started with France continuing to control possession, but they were gifted the goal that made certain of their victory.

There seemed little danger when Griezmann let fly from the edge of the area but Muslera misjudged the flight of the ball, flapped at the shot, and saw it loop slowly over the line.

Uruguay, roared on by their huge travelling support, threw bodies forward in the closing stages but could not seriously trouble Lloris again.



Their run of four successive victories is over, as well as their hopes of reaching the final in Moscow on 15 July.

It is France who march on, and they will face Brazil or Belgium in the semi-finals in St Petersburg on Tuesday. Those sides play their quarter-final later today (19:00 BST).

France do what they need to win

France manager Didier Deschamps has been criticised back home for his conservative tactics, but this time he got his approach exactly right.

This was an efficient, rather than a spectacular, display but it was exactly what was needed against stubborn South American opposition.

There were no more fireworks from Kylian Mbappe, for example, although he did waste a glorious chance to open the scoring when he badly mistimed a header.



Instead, France took control of the game in midfield, found a way to hurt Uruguay from the right flank and then struck their first decisive blow from Griezmann’s well-worked set-piece.

France’s second goal gave them breathing space, and added gloss to the scoreline, but they rarely looked troubled in any case and with defensive resilience as well as attacking flair, they will make formidable opponents to whoever they face next.

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