France reached the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2006 and ended Uruguay’s dream with a 2-0 win in Nizhny Novgorod.
Raphael Varane converted a clever Antoine Griezmann free-kick five minutes before half-time and the provider then profited from Fernando Muslera’s goalkeeping howler (61) as Didier Deschamps’ men booked a last-four showdown with Brazil or Belgium.
France, out to emulate the triumphant 1998 team captained by Deschamps, were thankful for several fine Hugo Lloris saves but his counterpart’s blunder took the edge off the contest as Luis Suarez – without injured partner Edinson Cavani – toiled in vain.
Uruguay: Muslera (5), Caceres (6), Gimenez (6), Godin (6), Laxalt (6), Nandez (6),Torreira (7), Vecino (6), Bentancur (6), Suarez (6), Stuani (5).
Subs: Gomez (6), Rodriguez (6), Urretaviscaya (6).
France: Lloris (8), Pavard (7), Varane (7), Umtiti (6), Lucas (6), Pogba (7), Kante (8), Mbappe (7), Griezmann (8), Tolisso (7), Giroud (7).
Subs: N’Zonzi (6), Dembele (n/a), Fekir (n/a)
Man of the match: Antoine Griezmann
Oscar Tabarez’s team had almost taken an early lead during a ragged passage of play, Cavani’s replacement Cristhian Stuani failing to connect as France neglected to clear, before Lloris was forced into a low diving punch under pressure from Jose Gimenez.
Olivier Giroud – on the receiving end of one of a string of robust challenges – teed up Kylian Mbappe soon after but the teen who terrorised Argentina watched his header loop harmlessly onto the roof of the net.
Uruguay could only name Edinson Cavani on the bench following the calf injury he sustained against Portugal. Cristhian Stuani replaced him in attack.
Corentin Tolisso came in for the suspended Blaise Matuidi in France’s midfield.
France had struggled to find space as their opponents hustled and harried but the breakthrough came from a set-piece when Griezmann, disguising his delivery with a stuttering run-up, curled in for Varane to glance into the far corner.
That had been the first time Muslera had been threatened and France were indebted to opposite number Lloris for a brilliant diving stop moments before the interval to deny Martin Caceres.
Muslera thwarted Paul Pogba with a strong punch as France returned with intent but they were gifted a further advantage when the Uruguay goalkeeper let Griezmann’s potshot through his grasp.
Uruguay needed cool heads but instead a melee erupted when Mbappe’s flamboyant flick drew a reaction from Christian Rodriguez and Pogba, angered by Nahitan Nandez, needed to be calmed by his coach.
Tabarez’s side were tiring, the cause looking lost, and though Griezmann sent another free-kick high into the crowd, France controlled the ball with ease in the closing stages to seal a Tuesday showdown in Saint Petersburg.
Man of the match – Antoine Griezmann
Hugo Lloris made big stops at key moments before Uruguay’s threat diminished but Antoine Griezmann gets the nod after another influential, if not top-gear display. He has now scored seven goals in his last six appearances in the knockout stages of major tournaments, though he turned away sheepishly after this one. There was no fortune in the opener – a goal finely crafted and finished – and several other key passes came from the Atletico Madrid man.
- France have reached the World Cup semi-final for the sixth time, progressing to the final twice (1998 and 2006).
- France are unbeaten in their last 10 World Cup matches against South American sides (W6 D4), since a 1-2 loss vs Argentina in 1978. It’s the joint-longest ever such run against CONMEBOL nations in the competition’s history (Italy also 10 between 1982 and 2010).
- France have now scored with each of their last six shots on target at the 2018 World Cup, including both such efforts against Uruguay.
- This was Uruguay’s first competitive game that Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez did not start together since March 2017, in a 1-4 defeat to Brazil.
- France have lost none of the 20 games in which Antoine Griezmann has scored for them (W18 D2 L0).
- Raphael Varane’s goal his third in all competitions for France, with all three of them being headers.
- Uruguay forward Luis Suarez failed to have a single touch in the opposition box in this match, and also failed to register a single shot.