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Les Bleus into semi-finals as Uruguay campaign peters out

FRANCE 2 (Varane 40’, Griezmann 61’)

By Tim Warren

France is through to the final four of the World Cup after a 2-0 victory over Uruguay in the quarter-final match in Nizhny Novgorod.

Man-of-the-match Antoine Griezmann was absolutely pivotal in the win, providing one goal and one assist.

The French will meet Belgium in the semi-finals after it knocked tournament favourites Brazil out of the World Cup.

In a fast-paced and even start to the game, neither team was able to find an early goal.

19-year-old Kylian Mbappe, who was the match-winner against Argentina in the round-of-16 win with two goals, fluffed a golden chance to open the scoring in the 15th minute when, unmarked seven yards out, he scooped a header over the crossbar.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 40th minute when Corentin Tolisso won a free-kick for France just outside the penalty area following a clumsy challenge by Rodrigo Bentancur, who received a yellow card for the foul.

Griezmann’s free-kick floated near the penalty spot where Raphael Verane used the pace of the ball to flick-on a header in to the bottom-left corner of the net.

Uruguay should have equalised just moments later when Martin Caceres was fouled by Ngolo Kante just outside the penalty area.

Lucas Torreira whipped the freekick into the box and Cristhian Stuani’s header was parried at full-stretch by Hugo Lloris.

The rebound fell into Diego Godin’s path at the far post but at full pace he couldn’t control the shot and from less than two metres, blasted wide of the goal.

The key story before the match surrounded the fitness of Uruguayan captain and key striker Edison Cavani, who was ruled out with a serious calf injury that he picked up in the round-of-16 win against Portugal.

The task to progress past the quarter-finals was made even more difficult for Uruguay early in the second half when Griezmann doubled the French advantage.

He collected the ball just outside the penalty area and blasted a left-foot shot that swerved late and Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, in attempting to palm it clear, allowed the ball to slip through his gloves and into his own net.

The contest turned sour in the 68th minute when Mbappe fell to the ground, claiming a foul behind play by Uruguayan substitute Christian Rodriguez.

Both teams came in to remonstrate which led to a lengthy stoppage in play and a yellow card for both Mbappe and Rodriguez.

Uruguay created few chances in the final quarter of the match and Les Bleus cruised into the semi-finals where they will meet neighbours Belgium in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday. 

Match Statistics

Uruguay: 43%
France: 57%

Shots (On Target)
Uruguay: 11 (4)
France: 11 (2)

Uruguay: 4
France: 3

Uruguay: 16
France: 15

Yellow Cards
Uruguay: 2 (Bentancur 38’, Rodriguez 69’)
France: 2 (Hernandez 33’, Mbappe 69’)

Team line-ups

URUGUAY (4-4-2): 1. Muslera (GK), 2. Gimenez, 3. Godin (C), 22. Caceres, 6. Bentancur (59’), 8. Nandez (73’), 14. Torreira, 15. Vecino, 17. Laxalt, 9. Suarez, 11. Stuani (59’)
Substitutes: 12. Campana, 23. M Silva, 4. Varela, 5. Sanchez, 7. Rodriguez (59’), 10. De Arrascaeta, 13. G Silva, 16. Pereira, 18. Gomez (59’), 19. Coates, 20. Urretaviscaya (73’)

FRANCE (4-2-3-1): 1. Lloris (GK) (C), 2. Pavard, 4. Varane, 5. Umtiti, 21. Hernandez, 6. Pogba, 12. Tolisso (80’), 13. Kante, 7. Griezmann (93’), 9. Giroud, 10. Mbappe (88’)
Substitutes: 16. Mandanda, 23. Areola, 3. Kimpembe, 8. Lemar, 11. Dembele (88’), 14. Matuidi, 15. Nzonzi (80’), 17. Rami, 18. Fekir (93’), 19. Sidibe, 20. Thauvin, 22. Mendy

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