France acknowledge the fans after defeating Nigeria 2-0 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between France and Nigeria at Estad …
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A 2-0 victory over Nigeria in Brasilia means that France is now through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Two strikes in the final 15 minutes of the game proved to be the difference maker between the two sides in a well contested game.
A French team, content to sit deep in their own half was up against the Super Eagles, whose prowess was in their quick counter-attacking game. However, with the Les Bleus sitting deep, the Africans provided us with some decent possession football of their own.
It was not all meaningless passing from the Nigerians as they threatened Hugo Lloris’ goal on multiple occasions early in the game while the French looked a disjointed and still going through the motions.
Emmanuel Emenike’s close-range finish from Ahmed Musa’s excellent cross in 19th minute appeared to have broken the deadlock, but a raised offside flag proved dismissive of the momentary joy for the Fenerbache man.
It took France nearly twenty odd minutes to hit their stride as they peppered Vincent Enyeama for the first time, courtesy of a sweetly timed volley from Paul Pogba. But the Lille custodian was equal to the task.
The game however nose-dived in regards to the entertainment quotient after this. A long ranger from John Obi Mikel and nasty tackle from Blaise Matuidi that ended Ogenyi Onazi’s World Cup on a stretcher were the only moments of action worth remembering in the minutes that followed.
The encounter in fact didn’t see much goal mouth action till the last twenty minutes. A neat one-two between Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann left the Real Madrid striker with a one-on-one opportunity. However, Enyeama was there again to partially block the Real Madrid forward’s effort. The rest of the cleaning up was done by Victor Moses who was “man on the spot” for Nigeria as he hooked ball off the line.
The French however were beginning to show their class and with the added impetus gained from their close snub, Les Bleus surged forward.
Yohan Cabaye and then Benzema again were denied the opener by a combination of the post and the acrobatic Enyeama.
However, the opener was to come from a howler from Nigeria’s star keeper. Enyeama mishandled a Mathieu Valbuena corner in the 80th minute, only to see it drop kindly to Paul Pogba, who duly obliged with a headed finish.
Antoine Griezmann was on hand to put the finishing touches to the French cause. Valbuena was at the heart of it again as he dribbled his way in from the corner flag and delivered a low cross which was exquisitely directed to the far corner by the Real Sociedad man.
Meanwhile in Porto Alegre, it took the Germans extra time to book their place in the last eight with a 2-1 victory over a spirited Algerian side.
Most had come into the match thinking that this would be another contest between the irresistible force and the immovable object. But, this year in Brazil nobody seems to settle for parking the bus in front of their goals, and so was the case with Algeria as well.
To the surprise of many it was the underdogs who started off on the front foot as they exploited the two weakest spots in the German line-up: their full backs. Benedikt Howedes and Shkodran Mustafi, who are mostly make-shifts at the wing back positions, were put under tremendous pressure from Les Fennecs.
A combination of some fine goal-keeping from Manuel Neuer, last ditch tackling from Per Mertesacker and an off-side flag was what it took for the Germans to deny Islam Slimani an opener in the early goings of the game.
Sofiane Feghouli also had his shot at cracking open the game, while Rais M’Bohli was on hand to produce a brilliant double save to send the game into the half goalless.
Joachimh Low, who at this time was getting hugely criticised for playing a number of players out of position made a decisive change during the interval as he brought on Andre Schurrle in placeof Mario Gotze.
There were immediate repercussions as Die Mannschaft laid siege on the Algerian goal. Rais M’Bolhi was called into action as well, this time to parry Mustafi’s headed effort away.
This was turning into a game that seemed to swing one way and then the other.
While the Algerians came back with some threats of their own upon the introduction of Yacine Brahimi, M’Bohli had to be on his toes and produce two magnificent saves to keep Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger out.
The game went into extra-time as neither teams were able to break the deadlock. But that’s where the Algerians resistance faded. Two minutes into extra-time and Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle poked the Germans ahead as he got at the end of a Thomas Muller cross.
Mesut Ozil, who had done nothing of note till then, was appointed to plant the dagger that would rule the Algerians out of this competition. The Arsenal man got at the end of a rebound from a Thomas Muller effort to put the Germans two up and seemingly into the quarters.
However, Les Fennecs were not about to go into the sunset without having some saying of their own. Substitute Abdelmoumene Djabou brought Algeria back into the game almost right after Ozil had thought to have put the game to bed. It made for an exciting last few minutes with the African throwing the kitchen sink at the German goal.
However, that was all that the Algerian could garner from this one. The final whistle at the end of 120 minutes of pulsating action brought an end to the best round of 16 game in this year’s tournament.
The Germans march on as they survive another scare. Now they will meet the formidable France in the last eight.
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