World Cup - Pogba scores as France oust Nigeria

World Cup, Round of 16, National Stadium of Brasilia – France 2 (Pogba 79, Yobo 90+1) Nigeria 0

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World Cup - Pogba scores as France oust Nigeria
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France's players celebrate after team-mate Paul Pogba (obscured) scored during their 2014 World Cup round of 16 game against Nigeria (Reuters)

A late Paul Pogba header and a Joseph Yobo own goal ensured France progressed into the quarter-finals of the World Cup, and avoided an upset at the hands of a dangerous Nigeria side.

The African champions had threatened a shock throughout the game, but France’s quality told in the end, with Pogba making the most of a Victor Enyeama mistake to head home at the back post.

The win was wrapped up in stoppage time, when Yobo, sealing a 2-0 win for Les Bleus, deflected Antoine Griezmann’s effort into his own net.

An open first half surprisingly saw few clear-cut goalscoring opportunities created, although Emmanuel Emenike had a goal chalked off for offside after tucking the ball into the net at the near post just before the half hour mark.

France were somewhat fortunate to keep 11 men on the pitch, following a rash challenge by midfielder Blaise Matuidi, with the PSG man only shown a yellow card.

Les Bleus were cranking up the pressure, and came within inches of taking the lead when Victor Moses cleared Karim Benzema’s shot off the line. Yohan Cabaye also came close to finding the net, with his powerful shot crashing off the crossbar and down into the turf.

However, Didier Deschamps’ side finally made the breakthrough after 79 minutes, when Pogba headed into the net at the back post after Enyeama had flapped at Mathieu Valbuena’s corner kick.

And France sealed the win in stoppage time, with Yobo turning the ball into his own net under pressure from Griezmann.

KEY MOMENTS

20’ - DISALLOWED GOAL! Nigeria have the ball in the net, with Emenike turning the ball home at the near post! But the flag is up and it has been chalked off for offside. Replays show that it was close, but probably the right call in the end.

23’ - ENYEAMA SAVE! Huge save by Enyeama! Pogba drives with strength and power from the centre of midfield, before playing it out to Valbuena on the right side. Pogba receives the return pass, which he volleys towards goal but the Nigeria keeper pulls off a great stop.

67’ - ODEMWINGIE DENIED! Good save by Lloris! Odemwingie picks up the ball on the right side and cuts inside to take a shot at goal. But the French keeper gets his hands behind it and palms it away from danger.

72’ - GOALLINE CLEARANCE! Benzema finds himself through on goal after a brilliant one-two with Griezmann. Enyeama saves his first shot, but the rebound comes off the striker and heads towards the goal. Moss clears it off the line!

78’ - OFF THE LINE! A corner kick makes it's way to the back post, where Benzema is lurking. The Real Madrid striker fizzes a shot across the face of goal, with Mikel scrambling it off the line!

79’ - CROSSBAR! Mikel's clearance off the line lands at the feet of Cabaye on the edge of the box. The PSG midfielder strikes across the ball and sees his shot crash off the woodwork, down into the turf and away from goal!

80’ - BREAKTHROUGH! France 1-0 Nigeria. It's a mistake from Enyeama, who flaps at a Valbuena corner kick, allowing Pogba to calmly head home at the back post. France finally have the lead!

91’ - OWN GOAL! France 2-0 Nigeria. And that will be that. Valebuena plays a really good ball to the near post, where Griezmann gets across his man and angles a shot into the net.

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KEY STATS

Didier Deschamps is unbeaten in his 10 games at the World Cup as player & manager (W8 D2).

All of France’s goals during this World Cup have come from inside the box.

Nigeria have only won one of their last 12 World Cup matches, losing eight and drawing three.

France have lost only once in their last 18 World Cup matches in which they have been level at half-time.

France have not conceded a first goal in 19 of their last 20 games in all competitions, with Belarus the last team to score before the break against them (September 2013).

Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema played just one pass to each other in the first half.

TALKING POINT

Should Antoine Griezmman start instead of Olivier Giroud in the next round? Didier Deschamps’ decision to start the game with both Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud raised some eyebrows. It was a largely ineffectual strategy, with Benzema in particular a nonentity out on the left side. It wasn’t until the introduction of Griezmann in the second half that France started to find their stride, with Les Bleus snapping back into their familiar 4-3-2-1 system.

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MAN OF THE MATCH

Mathieu Valbuena: The Marseille playmaker struggled to impose himself on the game in the first half, often finding himself isolated in the lines between midfield and attack. But his set pieces were a threat, and came into his own after the introduction of Griezmann. The purest playmaker at this World Cup.

PLAYER RATINGS

France: Lloris 7, Debuchy 6, Varane 7, Koscielny 5, Evra 5, Poba 7, Cabaye 7, Matuidi 7, Valbuena 8, Giroud 5, Benzema 6. Subs: Griezmann 7, Sissoko 5.

Nigeria: Enyeama 5, Oshaniwa 5, Omeruo 5, Yobo 4, Ambrose 7, Mikel 7, Onazi 6, Musa 6, Moses 6, Odemwingie 7, Emenike 5. Subs: Gabriel 5, Nwofor 4.

MATCH IN A TWEET

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