The first of the quarter-finals was down for decision, as Uruguay and France went head-to-head at the Nizhny Novgorod Arena.
Good afternoon and welcome along to our live coverage of the first 2018 World Cup quarter-final, as Uruguay and France go head-to-head at the Nizhny Novgorod Arena.
After a two-day break, we’ve reached the business end of the tournament and this clash sees two unbeaten sides do battle for a place in the last four. It promises to be a fascinating encounter, and we’ll bring you all the action as it happens.
Kick off is at 3pm, so stick with us for all the build-up.
TEAM NEWS: Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani has been ruled out of the quarter-final tie, after losing his battle to recover from injury.
Cavani, who has been replaced by Cristhian Stuani, has been listed as “injured” on the official Fifa team sheets after picking up a calf muscle strain in the 2-1 win over Portugal in the last 16.
The other half of Uruguay’s star duo, Barcelona forward Luis Suarez, does start.
Full teams to follow.
So, without Cavani, this is how Uruguay will line out this afternoon.
Uruguay: Muslera, Caceres, Gimenez, Godin, Laxalt, Nandez, Torreira, Vecino, Bentancur, Suarez, Stuani.
Subs: Campana, Varela, Sanchez, Rodriguez, De Arrascaeta, Gaston Silva, Maxi Pereira, Gomez, Coates, Urreta, Martin Silva.
As for France, here is the XI Didier Deschamps has named to start. As was expected, Corentin Tolisso replaces Blaise Matuidi on the left side of the French midfield.
France: Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Lucas, Pogba, Kante, Mbappe-Lottin, Griezmann, Tolisso, Giroud.
Subs: Mandanda, Kimpembe, Lemar, Dembele, Nzonzi, Rami, Fekir, Sidibe, Thauvin, Mendy, Areola.
France have lost only one of their last 12 World Cup knockout games after 90/120 minutes — a 1-0 defeat to eventual winners Germany in 2014 — while Uruguay have advanced past the quarter-final stages on five occasions.
Which way do you see this one going?
France have four players — Paul Pogba, Corentin Tolisso, Benjamin Pavard and Olivier Giroud — who are just one booking away from missing a potential semi-final, while Rodrigo Bentancur is the only Uruguay player walking a tightrope.
The teams are out at the Nizhny Novgorod Arena as the city prepares to host its final game of the tournament. It’s time for the anthems, starting with Uruguay.
KICK OFF! Uruguay, in their traditional sky blue jersey, get us underway. France in their changed strip of all-white.
2 mins – Uruguay are quite content to drop off and sit in their rigid formation, allowing France dominate the ball in these early exchanges. We could see a lot of that this afternoon.
3 mins – Olivier Giroud has gone down just outside the Uruguay box and is slow to pick himself back up. Looks like he got a kick off Jose Gimenez, as the defender lays down an early marker.
5 mins — A couple of uneasy moments for the French defence. Diego Laxalt’s cross isn’t dealt with and it comes all the way across for Nahitan Nandez, who has his shot blocked. Lively start.
6 mins – Encouraging signs for Uruguay up top as Suarez and Stuani link well, with the latter firing a shot across the box. At the other end, France look bright too with the likes of Griezmann and Mbappe looking to get on the ball early.
10 mins — France win a free-kick near this left touchline, with Griezmann standing over it. He whips the set-piece in but Raphael Varane is unable to keep his effort down.
12 mins – Suarez goes down under the challenge of Umtiti like he’s been shot, and while the referee awards the free-kick, he warns the Barcelona striker that he wants none of his messing this afternoon.
14 mins – Hugo Lloris is called into action for the first time as Uruguay look to strike from a set-piece. Jose Gimenez nods the corner down towards goal and the France ‘keeper has to be quick off his line and punch clear in front of Stuani.
18 mins — Chance! First sight of goal of the afternoon for Kylian Mbappe, and he ought to have done much better. Giroud heads the cross back towards the teenage striker, who finds himself in acres of space in the box but mistimes his jump and loops his header over the bar. He had more time than he thought there and could have even taken it down.
23 mins – The tackles are flying in out there and Uruguay are certainly making their presence felt, with Stuani again guilty of going through the back of Lucas Hernandez.
The Argentinian referee has yet to reach for his cards, but it won’t be long until he needs to brandish yellow at the rate we’re going.
25 mins – France have dominated the ball in the opening 25 minutes but Mbappe’s chance aside, have yet to create anything clear-cut. Uruguay’s tenacity and work-rate is unrelenting and they’re making it difficult for the white shirts to find time and space in the final third. The South Americans, for their part, are looking to hit France on the break.
28 mins – Uruguay have set out to frustrate France and nullify the threat their front line poses; and it’s working a treat so far. Pogba tries to force things but his ball over the top is poor and the move breaks down.
29 mins — With the midfield channel heavily congested, France are looking to stretch Uruguay and move the ball out wide, with the right-hand side proving to be a good avenue of attack.
Pogba is the first to drift out wide and he swings in a delightful ball, which Giroud comes close to connecting with at the front-post and then Pavard low cross almost comes all the way through to Tolisso. France probing, but Uruguay standing firm.
34 mins — After being fouled twice at one end, Lucas Hernandez is the first player to go into the referee’s book after he lost possession and tugged at Nandez’s jersey as the Uruguayan looked to break clear.
36 mins – That pretty much sums up the opening half so far. France work it well down the right, freeing the ever-willing Mbappe but when he cuts an inviting ball back, there isn’t a single white jersey making a break to get into the box.
38 mins – Uruguay have showed little in the way of attacking imagination but they always carry a threat with Suarez up front, and he creates the half-chance Matias Vecino, who strikes it straight at Lloris.
39 mins — GOAL! Uruguay 0-1 France (Varane)
Needless foul from Rodrigo Bentancur as he scythes down Tolisso on the right, and picks up his second booking of the tournament which means he’ll miss the semi-final if Uruguay get through.
But the South Americans are up against it now, as France find the breakthrough this game so badly needed. Griezmann sends in the free-kick and Varane rises highest to glance it home into the far corner.
42 mins – That was a brilliant glancing header from Varane and France deservedly lead having dominated much of this first period. Uruguay will have to change that tact somewhat now, having been happy to sit back so far.
43 mins — Save! Oh my word, what a brilliant save from Lloris. France concede the free-kick, Martin Caceres powers the header towards goal but the Tottenham ‘keeper pulls off a brilliant one-handed stop away to his right.
And not only that, but Lloris is quickly on his feet and in the face of Godin as he looked to finish the follow-up, but in the end could only blast high and wide.
45 mins – We’ll have two minutes of added time at the Nizhny Novgorod Arena.
45 + 1 mins – Uruguay suddenly look very dangerous from the set-piece, but France do just enough to deal with the initial response to Varane’s goal.
Half-time! Uruguay 0-1 France
And that’s half-time in the first quarter-final tie, with Varane’s header just before the break separating the sides in the Nizhny Novgorod.
KICK OFF! The teams are back out for the second half, and we’re up and running again. A big 45 minutes ahead.
47 mins — France have started this half with real purpose. They win possession back in midfield and look to strike instantly, with Griezmann inches away from sending Mbappe clear on goal.
A minute later, Muslera is closed down by Griezmann and the Uruguay ‘keeper is fortunate it didn’t lead to anything.
51 mins – France pressing for a second and they’re completely bossing this game at the moment. Not too many clear-cut chances to speak of but Les Bleus are looking comfortable at the moment, with Uruguay offering absolutely nothing at the other end.
53 mins – Muslera is more convincing on that occasion as he comes off his line to punch clear under pressure from another Griezmann free-kick. Pogba was waiting to strike there but the Uruguay ‘keeper did well.
58 mins – That was better from Uruguay, as they get the ball down and move it with pace and precision. Martin Caceres finds himself in space down the right and delivers a delicious low cross, forcing Varane to stretch and clear. The South Americans are preparing to make a couple of changes here…
59 mins – Uruguay boss Óscar Tabárez has reverted to a straight 4-4-2 formation with Cristian Rodriguez and Maximiliano Gomez replacing Bentancur and Stuani. Half an hour left at the at the Nizhny Novgorod Arena.
61 mins — GOAL! Uruguay 0-2 France (Griezmann)
Oh no. Muslera has made an absolute howler as he lets Griezmann’s effort straight through his hands to gift France a second goal. It moved a little but the ‘keeper shouldn’t have had any problems in dealing with that long-range strike. A shocker.
63 mins – Uruguay looking for an instant reply. Rodriguez tries his luck from range, but his low drive whistles narrowly wide.
69 mins – Referee has a job to do here as both sets of players get involved in a bit of a scuffle. Mbappe goes down off the ball after an incident with Rodriguez, and the Uruguayans — led by Godin — aren’t happy. Pogba loses his head and Deschamps is now on the pitch trying to cool his players down.
At the end of all that, both Mbappe and Rodriguez are booked.
72 mins – France going for the jugular. They moved the ball brilliantly, picking holes between the lines, and eventually it comes left for Tolisso, who has Hernandez in support but opts to go for goal himself and is unable to find the target.
76 mins – It’s opening up a bit more for France now as Mbappe very nearly jinks his way through before Giroud snatches at an effort and it sails over.
80 mins – France make their first change as former Blackburn and Stoke midfielder Steven N’Zonzi replaces Tolisso for the final 10 minutes.
85 mins – This game is now petering out as France retain possession and continue to frustrate Uruguay. Just five minutes remaining.
87 mins – Mbappe now makes way as Dembele is introduced for the final throes of this quarter-final.
89 mins — As Uruguay’s defiant support continues to get behind the team, it has all become a bit too much for Jose Maria Gimenez, who is reduced to tears with his country on the verge of World Cup elimination. Remarkable passion.
90 mins – We’ll have five minutes of added time.
90 + 2 mins – Deschamps makes his final change as Griezmann is given the final few minutes to put his feet up, replaced by Nabil Fekir.
Full-time! Uruguay 0-2 France
Goals from Varane and Griezmann seal France’s spot in the World Cup semi-finals, and while there was an element of fortune to their second goal, Deschamps’ side are fully deserving of their place in the last four.
They’ll face either Brazil or Belgium next.
Here’s our on-the-whistle match report, as France become the first side to take their place in the semis.
We’ll be back later with our live coverage of Brazil’s quarter-final clash with Belgium, but until then goodbye!