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World Cup Recap: France vs. Nigeria

Another tight and competitive match in this World Cup ends with talk of controversy directed towards a decision made by a referee.  France scored twice in the second half and defeated a tough Nigerian squad that seemed to fade in the final stretch of the game.

The first half was a back and forth battle that saw both keepers forced to make important saves in order to keep the ball out of each others net.  The stats of the first 45 minutes perfectly reflected how closely contested this game was, with an identical number of shots for both teams and a slight 51-49 percent possession advantage to the Frenchmen.

Nigeria’s attacking mentality created plenty of chances including a correctly disallowed goal by Emmanuel Emenike in the 19th minute because of a slight offside position.  France found its attack mostly on the right flank through the feet of Mathieu Valbuena, who was involved in most of the French opportunities.

In the 22nd minute Valbuena raced down the right side of the field and his cross was met by a brilliant half volley from Paul Pogba that almost hit the net. Enyema prevented the ball from penetrating his goal and kept the game scoreless.

The beginning of the second half saw Nigeria take more initiative and control of the game creating better chances, but still unable to take advantage of them.

In the 54th minute a very hard foul by French midfielder Blaise Matuidi forced Nigerian Ogenyi Onazi to leave the game because of injury.  The referee was extremely lenient in awarding just a yellow card to the Frenchman for the foul, instead of a red card that would have given an advantage to the Nigerian squad.

As the time went on Nigeria seemed to fade— the possessions and the chances turned to France’s favor.  French striker Karim Benzema found himself one-on-one in the 70th minute, with just the keeper to beat, but once again it was the Nigerian keeper who prevailed and kept the game tied.

The zero on the scoreboard was finally broken after Enyeama failed in his attempt to clear a French corner kick and left the ball in perfect position for Pogba to break the tie and put France ahead.

There was little to no response from Nigeria and in stoppage time a Valbuena cross looking for Frenchman Anttoine Griezmann found Nigerian defender Joseph Yobo’s foot and went in.  Yobo’s own goal was the second and final goal of the match.

With the result France advances into the quarterfinals where they await their opponent, which will come out of the German and Algerian clash to take place later this afternoon.

 

Luis Gonzalez may be reached at [email protected].

 

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World Cup Recap: France vs. Nigeria