France who topped Group E with 2 wins and a draw played Nigeria who got through to the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time since 1998 despite a defeat from Argentina. With the likes of Evra, Cabaye, Pogba along with Benzema, who has been in hit form since the start of the tournament scoring 3 goals and assisting 2, France were always considered as clear favourites to go through to the quarter finals over Nigeria.
A Paul Pogba header in the 79th minute and an own goal from Joseph Yobo in 92nd minute was more than enough to send France through to the Quarters finals of the World Cup.
However, it would have been a different score line if it hadn’t been the heroic saves from the Nigerian keeper Victor Enyeama. Enyeama kept the African champions in the game and frustrated the French strikers with some awesome saves in the tournament so far.
Griezmann’s inclusion in the second half, gave France an opportunity to penetrate more into the other half. France had one of the best chances in the game in the 69th minute when Benzema was one-on-one with the keeper; the Real Madrid striker’s low fired shot hit the keeper on its way into the net but was cleared just off the line by Victor Moses. The dead lock was finally broken in the 79th minute when Pogba headed the ball into the net through a corner which Enyeama failed to capitalise on. France looked the better side right after the first goal as they kept on pressing for the 2nd goal. France finally sealed the match when the ball deflected on Joseph Yobo’s feet and ended up into his own net. This gave the French a two goal lead and some breathing space in the dying stages of the game.
While the African champions were eliminated from the tournament the Nigerian coach said that,
“Every defeat is painful, especially when the players follow their instructions and play well, as they did against France. We didn’t deserve to lose, but that’s football and we have to accept it. We have to keep going forward and move on to something else now. There’s no point looking for guilty parties. The team plays, wins or loses together.” He also thanked the crowd for their support by adding, “I’d like to thank the Brazilian public for their support during all of our games. I couldn’t have hoped for more from them.”
Paul Pogba who was named as the man of the match for his performance said, “We showed a lot of togetherness in how we played, and were solid in the tackles. I’d like to be able to share this prize with the whole squad. We’re not afraid of anyone we could come up against because we represent France. We’ll play to win by giving everything against whoever we face.”
Pogba also posted a picture of himself and Victor Enyeama with a tweet saying with the Great keeper of Nigeria.
While Yohan Cabaye too expressed his joy over the win with a tweet which translates into – “In pain but the adventure continues! What a joy to win for his country. But especially playing in this team!”
According to the France manager, Dider Deschamps it was a hard fought victory and will make them only stronger for the rest of the tournament. “We were dynamic and quick when it mattered, while Nigeria were slowing down. This deserved win will make us even stronger for the rest of the competition. I’m very proud to have reached the quarter-finals,” said the France coach.
With the 2-0 win over Nigeria, Didier Deschamps remains unbeaten at the World Cup as a player and manager.
France will surely have to step up their game to match up their opponent in the quarters where they face Germany. Poor finishing and missed chances will be something that the French will learn from the game against Nigeria.
Will Deschamps’ face his first defeat against the Germans when they go head to head in the Quarters Finals? Or will he still remain unbeaten as a manager???