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France beats Nigeria 2-0 to reach World Cup quarterfinal



BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) -- Paul Pogba scored with a late header to finally break Nigeria's stubborn resistance and Joseph Yobo added an own-goal as France won 2-0 to reach the World Cup quarterfinals on Monday.

Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama had just made a superb save to tip over Karim Benzema's header, but he flapped at the ball from the ensuing corner and Pogba pounced in the 79th minute to nod in his first goal of the tournament.

Pogba atoned for a scrappy first half in which he gave the ball away carelessly and placed a volley too close to Enyeama. Scoring such a crucial goal will boost his confidence heading into the last eight against either Germany or Algeria, who played their match later.

Yobo turned the ball into his own net in stoppage time under pressure from France substitute Antoine Griezmann - who made a big difference after replacing the ineffective Olivier Giroud in the 62nd.

At the final whistle, France's relieved players danced in front of their fans as dreams of a repeat run to the final - just like in 2006 - moved a step closer.

France started slowly and finished strongly in the second round match.

African champion Nigeria had a goal ruled out for offside in the 19th minute after Emmanuel Emenike poked home Ahmed Musa's cross from the left, but wasted a lot of second-half possession.

After Griezmann came on, Benzema finally came alive in the 70th, opening up the defense after a clever one-two with the France substitute. After Enyeama blocked Benzema's initial shot, his follow-up effort was hacked clear by Victor Moses. Video technology confirmed that the ball had not crossed the line.

Nigeria chose a very audacious lineup with four attacking players and found a lot of space behind France's fullbacks, with right back Efe Ambrose causing problems with his overlaps.

Pogba's tendency to try and hit perfect through-balls worked against his team as he gave the ball away four times inside the first 10 minutes alone. He often seemed in two minds and this only slowed down the French attacks.

France failed to show the attacking flair of previous games, with Giroud skewing a shot wide early on from the edge of the penalty area.

Giroud also appeared to elbow John Obi Mikel in an off-the ball incident, having done the same in last week's 0-0 draw with Ecuador after coming on as a second-half substitute.

Two chances were missed late in the half.

Full-back Mathieu Debuchy found space on the right side of the area in the 40th after collecting a pass from Mathieu Valbuena, but his attempt smacked into the back of a steward. Emenike saw his sharp drive from the edge of the area palmed away by France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, with no Nigeria player near the loose ball.

Center half Raphael Varane added much composure to a nervous-looking France team and hurt himself heading away a cross before it could reach Emenike in the 53rd. With French nerves fraying, midfielder Blaise Matuidi was booked for a heavy challenge on Ogenyi Onazi, who was replaced by Ruben Gabriel in the 59th.

The atmosphere quietened at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, with the pockets of French fans watching silently on as Nigeria started to dominate possession. Coach Didier Deschamps then made a key change, taking Giroud off and bringing on Griezmann, freeing Benzema to play through the middle.

But Nigeria continued to push forward, and Lloris did well to block a shot from Peter Odemwingie, who was Nigeria's most dangerous player making runs from deep.

Center half Laurent Kocielny made a vital interception to block Musa's dangerous cross from the right with a little more than 20 minutes left.

Then, it was all France as Griezmann boosted the attacks with his mobility and technique, and he almost made it 2-0 with an effort in the 85th that Enyeama tipped over brilliantly. Instead, it fell to Yobo to inadvertently add France's second goal.

---

Lineups:

France: Hugo Lloris; Mathieu Debuchy, Raphael Varane, Laurent Koscielny, Patrice Evra; Paul Pogba, Yohan Cabaye, Blaise Matuidi; Mathieu Valbuena (Moussa Sissoko, 94th), Olivier Giroud (Antoine Griezmann, 62nd), Karim Benzema.

Nigeria: Vincent Enyeama; Efe Ambrose, Kenneth Omeruo, Joseph Yobo, Juwon Oshaniwa; Ogenyi Onazi (Ruben Gabriel, 59th), John Obi Mikel; Ahmed Musa, Peter Odemwingie, Victor Moses (Uche Nwofor, 89th); Emmanuel Emenike.

Join the discussion

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Pat June 30 2014 at 3:02 PM

who actually CARES about soccer in the USA ???

it's just a game designed for competing immigrants ...

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5 replies
philcva63 June 30 2014 at 4:06 PM

What is the greatest game you can ever witness: a perfect baseball game with a 1-0 score (MLB, minor league, college, HS, etc). Guess what the worst game you can ever witness: hint- score 0-0 with no tie breaker.

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4 replies
Chickiepoo June 30 2014 at 4:27 PM

I will be so GLAD....when this CRAP
is OVER......

I go to "google"....type something IN
the search box.....ONLY....to have IT
disappear....AND...whoever is playing
that day....POPS IN MY "search box"......automatically !!!!!!!!!

I have to stop....erase it....and RETYPE my info in.......EVERY single
time............

I have NO idea WHY "google" sees
fit to do this.....BUT.....

I will be SO GLAD when this CRAP
is OVER..............Aarrrghh !!!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
kashhusain Chickiepoo June 30 2014 at 5:02 PM

If you have no interest in FIFA World Cup then don't bother to put any comments or don't even read any related news. This the news for Football fans only.

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1 reply
skidrowtom kashhusain June 30 2014 at 7:09 PM

It will never be be "football" in the U.S.. Just soccer. I can see, however, how socialist and undeveloped countries like it. Simple, you usually don't have to count past "1", time counts up instead of down, and revelers often break out into song to keep themselves entertained.

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Brenda June 30 2014 at 7:06 PM

I've never been a sports fan. Too many people playing with balls.

When someone mentions "soccer," I flinch.

When I was younger some guy said "sock her" and down I went.

We need "rock, paper, scissors" tournaments. It's safer.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
skidrowtom June 30 2014 at 7:01 PM

How tough of a sport is this if France can reach the quarter finals? It's a great display of "drop, flop, and roll"..... and wait for a yellow card.

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1 reply
ds3inc skidrowtom June 30 2014 at 7:51 PM

They kicked the Muslims and the British out of France good enough for me.

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bigred8690 June 30 2014 at 5:11 PM

Now if the French could fight like they play soccer, they wouldn't have gotten their butts kicked in 1871 and 1940.

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1 reply
ds3inc bigred8690 June 30 2014 at 7:50 PM

easy for you to be tough behind your computer, spoken like a true coward.

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I LOVE YOU JENNY June 30 2014 at 4:52 PM

Nigeria who????????

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1 reply
jacks_sam I LOVE YOU JENNY June 30 2014 at 5:11 PM

Not liking soccer is one thing, but showing your ignorance of geography is plain stupid. You must be a product of our great public school system.

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oujoou June 30 2014 at 2:49 PM

It's too much fun poking fun at the French. :) But this is World Cup. What is the first thing a French girl does when her team wins a World Cup elimination game? Cry for the loser. lol. Too bad for Nigeria. Sad to see a team fighting that hard and falling. :)

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1 reply
ds3inc oujoou June 30 2014 at 7:56 PM

Trust me the french don't give a crap what you think.

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jurmik June 30 2014 at 3:36 PM

Vive le France. Well done.

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1 reply
bigred8690 jurmik June 30 2014 at 5:49 PM

It's "la France," not "le France."

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STEPHEN June 30 2014 at 3:20 PM

France just surrendered to Germany . Old habits are hard to break .

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1 reply
ds3inc STEPHEN June 30 2014 at 7:52 PM

careful with that joke it's an antique.

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