Russia 2018 Watch: France march on past Uruguay
PUBLISHED: 21:24 06 July 2018 | UPDATED: 21:24 06 July 2018
And so, after two days without any World Cup action, the quarter-finals began.
Uruguay and France had met on eight previous occasions, with the South Americans triumphing on three of them and losing once.
The last encounter was a friendly in 2013, where Luis Suárez scored the only goal of the game for Uruguay. It was the first goal in their previous five encounters.
In fact, France hadn’t scored against la Celeste since a 2-0 friendly win back in 1985.
Uruguay were unbeaten in the World Cup against the French, winning 2-1 in 1966 and playing out two goalless draws in 2002 and 2010.
They had won all four of their matches in this campaign and a victory against les Bleus would mean that they would equal their longest winning run of five matches, which they achieved twice – between 1930-1950 and 1950-1954.
The French, meanwhile, were also unbeaten in this campaign, with three wins and a draw and it was the second consecutive campaign in which they reached the quarter-finals, while the Uruguayans were making their first appearance at this stage in eight years.
Los Charrúas had won their last four World Cup matches against European opposition – defeating England and Italy in 2014 and hosts Russia and Portugal this campaign.
Their last defeat came in 2010 in a 3-2 loss to Germany in the third-place play-off.
But on the other hand, the French hadn’t lost to South American opponents in the tournament since 1978 when they were beaten 2-1 by Argentina (who they defeated so memorably in this tournament’s last 16).
Óscar Tábarez’s side frustrated the 1998 winners early on with his robust defence preventing any space in behind.
And fact they looked the more threatening on the break, but without the injured Edinson Cavani – they lacked the required firepower up front and Didier Deschamps’ men capitalised to open the scoring against the run of play in the 40th minute, when Raphaël Varane headed home from an Antoine Griezmann free-kick.
However, the South Americans responded well and should have levelled the scores two minutes before the interval when Martín Cáceres latched on to Arsenal target Lucas Torreira’s free-kick with a header that forced Hugo Lloris into a magnificent save.
The Tottenham Hotspur keeper palmed the ball away, albeit it into the path of Diego Godín, who somehow blazed over the rebound with the goal at his mercy.
Just before the hour mark, Tábarez made a double change to inspire his side.
However in the 61st minute, France doubled their lead when Griezmann’s speculative strike from outside the area was spilled into the net by Fernando Muslera, whose error ultimately condemned la Celeste to a quarter-final exit as the French booked their place in a first World Cup semi-final since 2006.