Huge Fernando Muslera error helps France beat Uruguay and reach semi-finals

World Cup quarter-final, Nizhy Novgorod – Uruguay 0 France 2 (Varane 40, Griezmann 61)

France edged into the semi-finals of the World Cup as goals from Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann gave them a 2-0 win over Uruguay.

Didier Deschamps’ side can now look forward to a meeting with either Brazil or Belgium in the final four after this victory over difficult South American opposition. The absence of Edinson Cavani through injury ended up costing Oscar Tabarez’s side, who looked toothless for much of the game.

Varane gave Les Blues the lead five minutes from half time, glancing home a header from a clever Griezmann free-kick delivery. That was France’s first effort on goal and in retrospect that blow was enough to knock out Uruguay.

France managed the game well and added a second when Griezmann’s shot from the edge of the box slipped through the hands of goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. It was an almighty blunder from the Uruguayan, but his side were second best throughout. France are a force heading into the tournament’s semi-finals.

TALKING POINT – Are France finally coming to the boil?

They are into the semi-finals, but there is still a sense that we have yet to see the best of this French side. Only once – against Argentina in the round of 16 – have they allowed themselves to take the handbrake off. This was hardly a barnstorming performance from Les Blues, but they did show great man-management over the course of the 90 minutes against Uruguay, taking their chances when they came to them. So are France finally coming to the boil at this World Cup?

MAN OF THE MATCH – Antoine Griezmann (France)

This wasn’t a virtuoso performance from Griezmann, but he was key in opening up the Uruguay defence for France. It was his stuttered run up and free-kick delivery that created the space for Varane to run into for the first goal, giving the centre-back the chance to glance home a header into the far corner of the net. And then he added his name to the scoresheet, albeit as a result of Mulsera’s dreadful fumble. Just as was the case at Euro 2016, Griezmann is growing into this tournament as it progresses. Not a bad quality.

PLAYER RATINGS

Uruguay: Muslera 4, Caceres 5, Gimenez 5, Godin 5, Laxalt 6, Nandez 6, Torreira 6, Vecino 5, Bentancur 5, Suarez 5, Stuani 6. Subs – Rodriguez 5, Gomez 5, Urretavizcaya 5.

France: Lloris 7, Pavard 6, Varane 8, Umtiti 5, Hernandez 6, Kante 6, Pogba 7, Mbappe 6, Griezmann 8, Tolisso 6, Giroud 6. Subs – N’Zonzi 6, Dembele 6, Fekir 6.

KEY MOMENTS

15’ MBAPPE CHANCE! Oh the teenager might have done better with that. Mbappe had so much time. He was waiting for a knockdown from Giroud to reach him, but he heads over the bar.

40’ GOAL! Uruguay 0-1 France: France strike the first blow! It was a brilliant delivery into the box by Griezmann from the free-kick and an even better glancing header from Varane! Big moment in this quarter final. France have the lead.

44’ WHAT AN AMAZING SAVE! Cacares cannot believe that his header didn’t beat Lloris. But the French goalkeeper got down to make one of the saves of the tournament so far. Godin blasts over the rebound!

49’ ALMOST A BLUNDER! My word, that was very nearly a gaffe by Muslera. He took a chance in trying to dribble past Griezmann, but the tackle sends the ball wide of the target.

61’ GOAL! Uruguay 0-2 France: Oh that’s a blunder by Muslera and France have a two-goal lead! Griezmann shoots from 20 yards out, it should have been an easy one for the Uruguay goalkeeper, but he has allowed it to go through his hands!

KEY STATS

  • Raphael Varane’s header was France’s only effort on target in the first half.
  • Uruguay conceded two consecutive goals from set-pieces in World Cup games for the first time since 1966.
  • Antoine Griezmann has scored seven goals in his last six appearances in the knockout stages of major tournaments.
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