It took France 79 minutes and a goalkeeping error to score against the Super Eagles, but they never looked back. Les Bleus had the better chances throughout; as Nigeria had a goal taken away by a correctly called offside against them.
The first half saw possession dominated by Nigeria, as if this fixture was following a written script. And it appeared the Nigerians had taken an early lead 18 minutes in, but had EmmanuelEminike’s goal disalloweddue to an offside call. Vincent Enyeama, who ironically enough plays in France’s Ligue 1, was playing the game of his life between the posts, slowing down the French scoring machine. Nigeria had numbers back at all times and didn’t allow the French attack of Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud to get going. The French saw their best scoring chance of the first half denied by Enyeama as Paul Pogba’s volley was stopped.
The second 45 saw the French have more possession and more chances. A change in the 62nd minute brought Antoine Griezmann on for Giroud which paid off later. Les Bleus kept pushing and eventually evened the possession to a more modest 49% against Nigeria’s 51%. The midfield duo of Yohan Cabae and Paul Pogba created more chances, but it appeared the Nigerian defense would not be broken.
A succession of corners for the French with 12 minutes remaining finally saw a breakthrough. In the 79th minute Mathieu Valbuena delivered a ball into the box that was tipped away by a flying, twisting Enyeama. However, the ball found itself to Paul Pogba who headed it into the net in one swift motion. France had taken a 1-0 lead over the Super Eagles.
Nigeria pushed for a few half-chances late into the match and stoppage time, but could not find anything. As they would push players forward, France would too easily take possession and create more chances for themselves. Early into stoppage time from a short corner, France added to their lead, well indirectly. A cross from Valbuena deflected off the leg of Joseph Yobo and into the net. An own goal had put Nigeria away, such a shame for an otherwise great defensive performance.
France had won 2-0 and will go on to face the winner of today’s Germany-Algeria match Friday at the Maracana in the quarterfinal round of the World Cup. Could we imagine how great of a game France vs Germany would be at the holy Maracana?