France advanced to the second round of the World Cup and eliminated Peru with a 1-0 victory in Ekaterinburg on Thursday.
As it did against Denmark in its opener, Peru attacked, often with flair. But after 180 minutes of soccer, the hard-luck team lacks a win, a draw or even a goal.
France has a star-studded lineup of players in their primes. But its goal in the 34th minute came from a 19-year-old, Kylian Mbappe of Paris St. Germain, who was not born when France last won the Cup in 1998.
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With its Cup on the line, Peru poured it on in the second half and eventually got 10 shots, six of them on net. It earned several corners and dangerous free kicks. But the finishing touch was never there.
France Coach Didier Deschamps made a pair of tactical adjustments after an underwhelming performance in the team’s opening win over Australia. He put Blaise Matuidi and Olivier Giroud in the starting lineup but kept his same 4-3-2-1 formation with Giroud out front.
Both used their speed and passing to expose gaps in Peru’s backline.
After getting very little out of the three-prong attack of Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele in their opening win, the French trio was active in Yekaterinburg.
Griezmann had a pair of opportunities stopped within the first 15 minutes, with Mbappe and Dembele consistently getting past Peru’s defense to set up scoring chances.
But it was midfielder Paul Pogba who opened things up for Mbappe’s goal. Pogba beat his defender and found Giroud with a perfect pass. Giroud then chipped it for Mbappe to easily tap it past goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
With France in and Peru out, Denmark and Australia are the candidates for the final spot in Group C. Denmark is in the best position. For Australia to steal its spot, it will have to beat Peru and have Denmark lose to France.
There were those who felt France rode its luck in its opener against Australia, and it did so again here. But it has 6 points and a berth in the second round.
Here’s how France eliminated Peru:
93’: Peru’s Last Chance?
A very long free kick for Peru is lobbed into the box and its Guerrero again who gets a head to it. But it goes well wide.
90’: Four More Minutes
Nzonzi in for Pogba as France kills another minute. Four minutes of injury time to come.
87’: Guerrero Free Kick!
Farfan takes a blow to the face from the back of Varane’s hand and wins a free kick for Peru. It’s Guerrero, the captain who needed the Court of Arbitration for Sport to play here. The wall is formed. Tense moments. Guerrero … clears the wall, but it’s right to keeper Lloris.
85’: Peru Running Out of Chances
Corner for Peru is cleared. There will only be so many more chances.
Griezmann out, Fekir in for France. Dembele follows by hooking a shot wide.
80’: France Winding Down the Clock
France is definitely in clock-watching mode, passing deliberately and even wasting time at the corner already. Though Peru hasn’t finished at this tournament, they have gotten the ball into scary spots, and France has noticed.
75’: Peru Chance
Carrillo is free on the wing, but the angle is too tight and he crosses. Farfan lunges and gets a foot on it the other side of goal, but his angle is even tighter and it hits the side netting.
74’: Peru Has Heart, But Still No Goals
Peru battled Denmark every step of the way and are doing the same to France here. But their ledger still shows 0 points and 0 goals. They need that big finish, and soon.
69’: Another Peru Chance!
As Peru starts to set up another attack, Advincula bets his man outside the box and fires. It whistles just over the bar.
Rory Smith: Peru has had France pinned back for about 10 or 15 minutes now, and the French don’t seem quite able to reassert control. Which, given the players they have on the pitch, is … less than ideal.
66’: More Pressure From Peru
Cueva launches another Peru move. It would be a shame if his Cup is remembered only for that penalty howler in Game 1. Peru needs a goal soon to prevent that.
62’: Peru Fighting Back
Advincula on the baseline for Peru. Scary for a second for France, but his cross is cleared. Moments later Farfan does the same. Finally Carrillo blasts one over the bar.
At the other end, Carrillo goes down in the penalty box, but he was barely touched and he can’t sell it.
58’: Chance for France
Young Mbappe beats a defender, polishing his man of the match credentials. Matuidi’s shot is saved.
57’: France in Control
France is mostly keeping the ball in Peru’s end. That’s obviously not good for Peru. A free kick, a corner. No goals but none surrendered either.
51’: Peru Chance!
Good sequence leads to Aquino of Peru launching a rocket from distance. It hits the corner of the goal woodwork!
47’: Second Half Kicks Off
Peru will make two changes at halftime to try to turn the tide here. Striker Jefferson Farfan and defender Anderson Santamaria check in.
France has a foot in the second round, and Peru has a foot out the door. Goal scoreer Kylian Mbappe is 19 years old. We just might be seeing him in World Cups for quadrennia to come.
44’: Almost Another One for France
A series of passes eventually finds Lucas Hernandez just outside the area. His powerful shot is batted away by keeper Gallese of Peru.
41’: Fans Still Behind Peru
Peru’s fans are roaring for their team, as they have done all Cup long. Definitely a candidate for fans of the tournament, enjoying a return after 36 years.
39’: What Happens If France Wins
A France win here would be enough for it to advance and would eliminate Peru. It also probably would mean that Denmark would advance, although Australia would still be alive.
35’: GOAL FRANCE!
The move started with a steal, then Giroud poked it toward goal. It might have gone in anyway, but Mbappe was racing in unmarked and slammed it in to be sure.
Andrew Das: Terrible break for Peru there, as the deflection popped the ball up and over Gallese, who was dead to rights with Mbappé closing fast. Peru’s fans don’t bat an eye though; they’re urging their side on with everything they have.
32’: Great Chance for Peru
But he was tested there! The penalty goat of the last game, Cueva, splits the defense and gets it to captain Guerrero with the goal at his mercy! Lloris is down to save. Great chance for Peru.
29’: Peru on the Offensive
Peru is attacking with verve, uncowed by France’s star-studded lineup. The moves are mostly ending with giveaways or blocked shots though. Keeper Lloris has not been tested.
24’: Yellow for Peru’s Guerrero
A yellow card for Paolo Guerrero, the veteran Peru captain who nearly didn’t make the World Cup over a suspension.
17’: Peru On Its Heels
Mbappe to Giroud, who backheels it back to him. He’s pulled down, but there is no call. Then Griezmann gets a point blank shot saved. Nightmares for Peru’s defense.
15’: More Chances for France
Varane gets a header off the corner and it goes barely wide. That was a good chance. France is really threatening.
Andrew Das: Peru is really fighting for its life right now. France’s speed is a real problem, but so is Pogba, who just lashed a shot wide, and Varane in the air (he just nodded a header wide on a corner). Peru really needs a bit of possession, if only so France doesn’t have any more of it while they catch their breath.
12’: France Keeping Pressure On
Pogba tries a rocket from distance. A clear miss for mere mortals; he manages to barely put it wide.
11’: Chance for France
Griezman is free and charging toward net for France from a tight angle; his shot goes wide though.
10’: Chance for Peru
Great work on the wing by Carillo of Peru ends with him beating two men and getting off the cross. Unfortunately it loops too high and out of the area.
5’: France’s Defense Strong Early
Peru start brightly, but the France defense is up to the challenge and no shot is taken.
France in dark blue, Peru in white with a red stripe. France’s lineup includes a murderer’s row of talent: Giroud, Griezmann, Matuidi, Pogba, Kante. The team underachieved in beating Australia, 2-1, with the help of the video referee. Perhaps today’s the day France puts it all together.
Andrew Das: A reminder that Denmark’s draw with Australia earlier today means Peru will be eliminated with a loss to France in this match. A victory would give France six points, and Denmark already has four. If Peru loses, they can only gain three from their final group game, and that won’t do. It would be monumental disappointment for the Peruvians, who returned to the World Cup this year for the first time since 1982, and can’t know when they’ll be back. Which makes this among the more important moments in the country’s recent soccer history.
Goalkeeper:1 Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
Defenders:21 Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid)2 Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart)5 Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona)4 Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Midfielders:13 N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)14 Blaise Matuidi (Juventus)6 Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Forwards:9 Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)7 Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)10 Kylian Mbappe (Paris St Germain)
Goalkeeper:1 Pedro Gallese (Veracruz)
Defenders:17 Luis Advincula (Lobos Buap)15 Christian Ramos (Veracruz)2 Alberto Rodriguez (Atletico Junior)6 Miguel Trauco (Flamengo)
Midfielders:23 Pedro Aquino (Leon)19 Yoshimar Yotun (Orlando City)8 Christian Cueva (Sao Paulo)
Forwards:18 Andre Carrillo (Benfica)20 Edison Flores (Aalborg)9 Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo)
France vs. Peru Top Story Lines
• France beat Australia, 2-1, but did not look like a worldbeater doing so.
• Both French goals were aided by video review, and the game winner, in the 81st minute, only barely crossed the line.
• France’s coach, Didier Deschamps: “I am not going to complain with the use of video today because it was in our favor, obviously.”
• Paul Pogba scored a goal, defying his many critics: “The criticisms are always there,” he said. “Today, the most important thing is the result, and if I can help the team, I’m very proud.”
• Peru missed a penalty in its opener and lost to Denmark, 1-0. It was a very bad penalty by Christian Cueva, going miles over the net.
• Peru’s loss was all the more bitter as it came in its first World Cup match for 36 years.
• France and Denmark sit at the top of the group with 3 points, meaning Peru is in serious need of a win to get back in the hunt. But bookmakers have them as 5-1 underdogs to do so.
• The game is the second in Ekaterinburg, where Uruguay edged Egypt, 1-0.