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World Cup in Pictures: Griez is the word as France beat...

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In Pictures: Griez is the word as France beat toothless Uruguay

France's head coach Didier Deschamps (L) hugs Antoine Griezmann of France during the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarter final soccer match between Uruguay and France in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 06 July 2018. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. TONGO
By AFP
06 Jul 2018 0

France became the first team to reach the World Cup semi-finals on Friday after an assured 2-0 win against Uruguay.

Stay up to date with all the latest news from Russia with Daily Maverick’s dedicated World Cup 2018 section.  

France became the first team to reach the World Cup semi-finals as goals from Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann gave them a deserved 2-0 victory over Uruguay on Friday.

It is the first time France have been in the last four since 2006 and sets up a mouth-watering clash against either Belgium or Brazil, who play later on Friday, in St Petersburg on Tuesday.

France took the lead in the 40th minute from the unlikely source of defender Varane, who glanced home a fine header from an Antoine Griezmann free-kick.

It was only the Real Madrid player’s third goal for France and represented redemption for Varane, who was largely blamed for the goal which saw France lose at the quarter-final stage to Germany four years ago.

The usually dependable stopper flapped at Griezmann’s 20-yard shot and agonisingly saw the ball float over the line.

It was Griezmann’s third goal of this World Cup, but his first not from a penalty.

Cristhian Stuani of Uruguay (L) and Samuel Umtiti of France (R) in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarterfinal soccer match between Uruguay and France in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 06 July 2018. EPA-EFE/ETIENNE LAURENT
Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana gestures during the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarterfinal soccer match between Uruguay and France in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 06 July 2018. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. TONGO
Lucas Hernandez of France (L) and Nahitan Nandez of Uruguay in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarterfinal soccer match between Uruguay and France in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 06 July 2018. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. TONGO
Raphael Varane of France celebrates after scoring the 1-0 lead during the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarterfinal soccer match between Uruguay and France in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 06 July 2018. EPA-EFE/VASSIL DONEV
Diego Godin of Uruguay (C-L) and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris of France (C-R) in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarterfinal soccer match between Uruguay and France in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 06 July 2018. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. TONGO

Griezmann, who counts several of the Uruguay players as close friends, scored a second in the 61st minute, but it was mostly due to a howler from La Celeste’s goalkeeper, Fernando Muslera.

Goalkeeper Fernando Muslera of Uruguay cannot stop the ball as France go 2-0 up during the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarterfinal soccer match between Uruguay and France in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 06 July 2018. EPA-EFE/FRANCK ROBICHON
Benjamin Pavard of France reacts on the pitch during the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarterfinal soccer match between Uruguay and France in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 06 July 2018. EPA-EFE/ETIENNE LAURENT

That goal secured the victory but did not end the drama in Nizhny Novgorod, as Uruguay’s frustration boiled over in the 67th minute when Kylian Mbappe fell to the floor.

Uruguay’s skipper Diego Godin gestured with the teenager to get up, then tried to pull him from the turf, sparking a melee which involved most of the players and saw French coach Didier Deschamps come onto the pitch to try to calm tempers.

France’s victory was merited as it was they who had the bulk of possession and always looked the most likely to score.

Referee Nestor Pitana of Argentina (C) argues with Luis Suarez of Uruguay (L) and Kylian Mbappe of France (2L) during the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarterfinal soccer match between Uruguay and France in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 06 July 2018. EPA-EFE/ETIENNE LAURENT
Kylian Mbappe (down) of France reacts while players argue during the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarterfinal soccer match between Uruguay and France in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 06 July 2018. EPA-EFE/FRANCK ROBICHON
Corentin Tolisso of France (C) argues players of Uruguay during the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarterfinal soccer match between Uruguay and France in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 06 July 2018. EPA-EFE/ETIENNE LAURENT
Paul Pogba of France (C) discuss with Luis Suarez of Uruguay (L) during the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarterfinal soccer match between Uruguay and France in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 06 July 2018. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. TONGO

They might have scored as early as the 15th minute when Mbappe mistimed a close header.

The lightning-quick Mbappe and Griezmann struck fear into the Uruguayan defence all afternoon.

In midfield, France’s N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba snuffed out any potential threat posed by Uruguay.

And up front for La Celeste, Luis Suarez cut an isolated and agitated figure as his team desperately went in search of an equaliser as Edinson Cavani was ruled out with injury.

Increasingly, Suarez vented his frustration with Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana, who, coincidentally, was the official in charge of France’s quarter-final 2014 defeat.

The Barcelona star was partnered by Cristhian Stuani after a week of will-he-won’t-he speculation surrounding Cavani ended up with the Paris Saint-Germain striker failing to recover from a calf strain.

Without Cavani, Uruguay posed little threat.

A tight and nervy encounter to begin with, the game burst into life after Varane’s goal.

Until that point Uruguay had struggled to get into the French penalty area, but within four minutes of the goal would have been level except for an exceptional save by Hugo Lloris.

The French skipper saved superbly with one-hand from defender Martin Caceres, whose header from a free kick look destined to go in.

Diego Godin could have scored from the follow-up, but that was the closest the South Americans would come to scoring all afternoon.  DM

Extended match highlights are available on Fifa’s YouTube channel.

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