France took on Nigeria, as the Super Eagles looked to upset Didier Deschamps’ side.
ONE OF THE favourites for the World Cup, France, take on Nigeria, in today’s first round-of-16 encounter.
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Hello, and welcome to today’s first World Cup liveblog.
The teams are in…
FRANCE: Lloris, Debuchy, Evra, Koscielny, Varane, Cabaye, Valbuena, Benzema, Matuidi, Pogba, Giroud.
NIGERIA: Enyeama, Ambrose, Yobo, Oshaniwa, Omeruo, Onazi, Mikel, Musa, Odemwingie, Moses, Emenike.
The Gooch is on the RTÉ World Cup highlights show today.
He reckons the Dutch will prove too strong for Costa Rica in the quarter-finals.
Some pre-match reading for you…
2 mins: Debuchy goes down after a robust challenge from Musa.
The Nigerians look up for this game.
4 mins - It’s been a lively start to this game.
Moses loses possession, allowing Pogba to launch a counter-attack, but Nigeria clear for a corner.
Deschamps’ side haven’t had it all their own way so far though — indeed, much of the game has been played in their final third.
As I type, the ball falls to Odemwingie in a good position in the box, but his touch is too heavy, allowing the defence to clear.
10 mins: Nigeria have been passing the ball around nicely, with Lazio’s Ogenyi Onazi in particular, having an influence.
France have been fairly cautious but look very solid at the back — the Nigerians’ attacks have been consistently breaking down as they approach the penalty area.
13 mins: Emenike wins a free kick just outside the box, as he nutmegs Cabaye, and then gets blocked by him.
Meanwhile, Onazi is being stretchered off. It’d be a shame if he couldn’t continue, particularly given how well he’s started this game.
16 mins: A clumsy tackle from Matuidi gives away another free-kick on the edge of the box.
Emenike subsequently fires the ball well over.
18 mins: Nigeria have the ball in the net, but it’s ruled out for offside.
Emenike had gotten on the edge of Musa’s cross, and judging by replays, it’s marginal, but the linesman appears to have made the correct call.
It would have been well deserved, as Nigeria have been the better side so far.
21 mins: Not for the first time in this competition, Enyeama has made an excellent save, as he denies Pogba, who produced a powerful strike following another impressive France counter-attack.
It’s been a highly entertaining contest so far.
Here’s a look at that offside goal.
What do you think? Did the ref get it right?
33 mins: There has been one or two signs that France are beginning to get their act together in recent minutes.
They’ve had a few promising attacks, with Pogba playing through Cabaye moments ago, but again, the linesman raises his flag.
39 mins: It feels like Nigeria have had about 400 corners in this first half.
After the latest one, Patrice Evra is a lucky boy, as he has his arms around Odemwingie, but the referee inexplicably ignores the infringement.
Moments later, Debuchy fires just wide following another swift French counter-attack.
43 mins: Great effort from Emenike from distance that’s parried away by Lloris, and Moses gets to the rebound, but he is adjudged to have done so with his hand.
The Fenerbache man is looking like Nigeria’s biggest threat in attack.
HALF-TIME: FRANCE 0-0 NIGERIA
So at half-time, surely Nigeria will be the happier of the two sides.
They have been marginally the better team and should have had a penalty when Evra tugged Odemwingie’s jersey in the box.
France have looked dangerous on the counter but on the whole, their attack has seemed rather sedate and they’ve been disappointing in comparison to the games in the group stages, where the likes of Karim Benzema were running riot.
Ronnie Whelan reckons Olivier Giroud should be taken off at half-time, “but Deschamps is a big fan,” interjects Darragh Maloney.
“After that first half?” he replies.
The second half is underway…
51 mins: It’s been a low-key start to this second half.
Either tiredness, nerves or a combination of both appear to be setting into each side’s play.
As I type, Varane gets to a cross just ahead of Emenike to clear, but it would have been offside anyway.
Matuidi has just received the game’s first booking for a horrible tackle on Onazi.
The referee has been lenient all day, and he really should have given a red card there.
The Lazio man, who has been in the wars today, is stretchered off as a result.
Here’s the tackle that should have resulted in a red card.
63 mins: Matuidi commits a cynical foul and again, the referee is a little lenient with him.
Shortly thereafter, Odemwingie’s powerful strike from outside the box is well saved by Lloris.
68 mins: Poor corner from Odemwingie misses everyone.
Nigeria, for all their good build-up play, have been very wasteful with their set-pieces.
69 mins: Benzema plays a clever one-two with Antoine Griezmann before shooting on goal, but Enyeama gets off his line quickly to make the stop.
The Lille keeper has looked very impressive throughout the tournament, and today’s game has been no exception.
76 mins: Benzema fires a shot across goal that’s cleared off the line, before Cabaye hits the cross bar with a fantastic strike seconds later.
France are having probably their best spell of the game now.
GOAL! France 1-0 Nigeria (Pogba 78)
Enyeama, who’s been so good up until now, flaps at a corner, allowing Pogba to head the ball into the empty net.
That’s been coming in the last few minutes.
82 mins: Pogba plays through Griezmann, and the Real Sociedad man forces Enyeama to make an excellent save, partially atoning for his error for the goal in the process.
Nigeria need to be careful they don’t completely self-destruct here.
Here’s that Pogba goal/Enyeama gaffe.
89 mins: France have the ball up in Nigeria’s end of the pitch, as they run down the clock, much to their opponents’ frustration.
GOAL! France 2-0 Nigeria (Yobo own goal 90 +1)
The ball is played into the box and Griezmann’s presence is enough to force Yobo into a mistake, as the ball deflects off his shin and into the back of the net.
FULL-TIME: FRANCE 2-0 NIGERIA
So France progress but in somewhat fortuitous and unconvincing circumstances.
They undeniably had the better of the last few minutes, but Nigeria matched and even outplayed the French for considerable periods.
Matuidi was lucky to stay on the pitch after an atrocious challenge on Onazi, while Evra could have conceded a penalty when he tugged Odemwingie’s jersey.
That said, Deschamps’ side were much better when Griezmann came on, and won the game emphatically enough in the end.
Here’s France’s second goal.
Right, that’s all from me.
Thanks for reading and commenting, and don’t forget we’ll be back later for Germany v Algeria.
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