France beat Nigeria 2-0 in today’s Round of 16 match to advance to the quarterfinals as they await the winners of Algeria and Germany.
France advance to the quarterfinals just four years after failing to make it out of the group stage in what was a controversial exit for the French side. The 2014 World Cup has witnessed France come full circle from their embarrassing exit four years ago, as they are currently unbeaten in their first four matches of this tournament.
In today’s first round of 16 contest between France and Nigeria, the French dominated the scoring opportunities, capitalizing on two costly Nigerian mistakes which resulted in goals. France avoided some early scares by the Nigerian attack to win comfortably on the scoreline (although the game appeared closer according to ESPN’s live commentary) against the Super Eagles, who matched their furthest run in the a World Cup. Nigeria had several opportunities in the first half, but were unable to put anything past French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris on any of their chances.
France, on the other hand, challenged Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, for the majority of the contest, forcing the save after save before finally breaking the deadlock in the 79th minute. France took a 1-0 lead after midfielder, Paul Pogba, headed a Vincent Enyeama deflection into an open net following a breakdown by the Nigerian defense. The goal proved too much for Nigeria to come back from as the Super Eagles appeared tired in the last 10 minutes of the contest, failing to test Lloris in the late stage of the match. France sealed the game late in stoppage time after a Joseph Yobo own goal seated the African’s fate. Vincent Enyeama, who led the tournament with 18 saves, “showed his mettle again” but it wasn’t enough for Nigeria in the end (NY Times – Mifflin).
Nigeria heads back home following a trying week that saw a pay dispute mar their Round of 16 selection after making it out of Group F. France will await the winners of the last remaining African nation, Algeria, and Group G winner Germany.