Nizhny Novgorod: France won through to the World Cup semifinals for the first time in 12 years after seeing off a combative Uruguay side that struggled in the absence of the injured Edinson Cavani.
France’s victory was merited as it was they who had the bulk of possession and always looked the most likely to score. France, who reached the last four stage for the sixth time on Friday, took the lead in the 40th minute from the unlikely source of defender Raphael 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 quarterfinal stage to Germany four years ago. Atletico Madrid striker 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.
- 1966 the last time when a goal was scored in a France-Uruguay World Cup match before Varane scored on Friday. The last goal in a France-Uruguay WC match was scored by La Celeste’s Julio Cesar Cortez in his side’s 2-1 defeat of the French in England 1966. In between came two 0-0 draws between the two nations, in the group phases at Korea/Japan 2002 and South Africa 2010.
- 3 South American teams have been beaten by France in this World Cup. They are the only second team to do so after Netherlands did it in 1974.
- 7 goals Antoine Griezmann has scored in his last six appearances in the knockout stages of major tournaments (World Cup and European C’ships).
- 1st time since March 2017, Edinson Cavani and Suarez have not started a competitive game for Uruguay together. They lost 1-4 to Brazil then.