World Cup - Ecuador eliminated after goalless draw with France

World Cup Group E, Estadio do Maracana – Ecuador 0 France 0

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World Cup - Ecuador eliminated after goalless draw with France
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Ecuador's Gabriel Achilier (2nd R) jumps for the ball with France's Olivier Giroud (Reuters)

France just about held on to deny 10-man Ecuador from causing an upset and progressing through to the knockout stage, with Switzerland going through in the South Americans' stead.

The game was a surprisingly even one, and while France easily enjoyed the majority of possession, they struggled to create chances, with Ecuador having a fair few goalscoring opportunities of their own.

The first half was a relatively tense affair with very few chances, although Antonio Valencia's red card for a wild challenge appeared to give France an easy opportunity. Yet if anything, Ecuador were the better side after going down to ten men, and in the final twenty minutes the game was end-to-end as the substitutes Michael Arroyo and Renato Ibarra wreaked havoc on the wings, proving a far more effective duo than Valencia and the withdrawn Jefferson Montero.

Yet the quality of finishing was poor from both sides, particularly from Karim Benzema for France, who spurned chance after chance by blasting the ball right at the Ecuadorian keeper Dominguez. It was also a disappointing night for Enner Valencia, who in contrast to his previous performances was largely anonymous.

France managed to hold on despite several scares, but could not find a way past Ecuador either. Yet Switzerland's comfortable win over Honduras means that they will be heading out of the tournament, and France top the group easily. It's France-Nigeria in the next round, and Switzerland will face Argentina.

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KEY MOMENTS

50' - VALENCIA SENT OFF! Antonio Valencia is deservedly sent off for a shocking studs-up challenge when his team is desperate for a goal. That is not good at all.

53' - ECUADOR MISS! Immediately after going a man down, Ecuador seem to suddenly find another gear or three. Christian Noboa misses a great chance however, slipping as he shoots and blazing wide.

81' - ECUADOR MISS AGAIN, AND AGAIN! Arroyo and Ibarra look bright since the latter came on, but they both miss big chances here. First Arroyo overruns it after doing well to get away down the left and hammers his effort into the side-netting, before Ibarra cuts inside from the right into miles of space but fires straight at Hugo Lloris.

85' - BENZEMA MISS! Benzema has fired straight at Dominguez several times tonight, but none of his chances were as easy as this one - Olivier Giroud puts it on a plate for him but he again puts it right at the keeper.

KEY STATS

France have finished top of their group for the first time since 1998, the year they won the tournament.

Antonio Valencia has been sent off for two of his last four games for Valencia.

TALKING POINT

What were France lacking? Yohan Cabaye was the largest absence from the France squad who might've contributed to firstly their lack of creativity and latterly their total inability to control the game, but it's surely not solely down to him. Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann both had bad games, while Karim Benzema had a shocker up front. France's lack of depth could come back to haunt them if their stars have off days like this again.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND PLAYER RATINGS

MAN OF THE MATCH

Michael Arroyo (Ecuador): Not much to choose from, but Ecuador looked far more dangerous when Arroyo was on the ball, and his direct running proved far more effective than that of Valencia or Montero.

PLAYER RATINGS

France: Lloris 7, Digne 6, Sakho 6, Koscielny 6, Sagna 5, Matuidi 6, Schneiderlin 6, Pogba 5, Griezmann 5, Benzema 3, Sissoko 4. Subs: Remy 6, Varane 6, Giroud 6.

Ecuador: Dominguez 7, Paredes 7, Guagua 6, Erazo 6, Ayovi 6, A. Valencia 4, Minda 5, Noboa 6, Montero 5, Arroyo 7, E. Valencia 5. Subs: Ibarra 6, Caicedo 5, Achilier 6.

MATCH IN A TWEET

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