France edge Peru to claim last 16 berth

France edge Peru to claim last 16 berth
epa06827868 Kylian Mbappe (C) of France and Miguel Trauco (R) of Peru in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group C preliminary round soccer match between France and Peru in Ekaterinburg, Russia, 21 June 2018.

by Graeme Jackson

Thursday Jun 21, 2018. 19:04

France edged Peru 1-0 in their Group C clash in Yekaterinburg on Thursday evening to book a place in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup.

‘Les Bleus’ put in an improved showing compared to their opening win over Australia, but still needed a fine defensive performance in the second half to hold off the spirited ‘Los Incas’, who have been mathematically eliminated after back-to-back losses.

France were the first to threaten a goal, with a 14th minute corner kick picking out defender Raphael Varane, but he sent his glancing header just wide of the far post. Goalkeepers Pedro Gallese and Hugo Lloris were then called up to make fine saves from snap shots by Antoine Griezmann and Paolo Guerrero in the 16th and 31st minutes respectively.

Yet all the time ‘Les Bleus’ were building up a head of steam and they finally cracked open Peru’s defence: Olivier Giroud saw a shot from the left side of the penalty area heavily deflected, loop over the helpless Gallese and turned home on the line by Kylian Mbappe in the 34th minute.

The European side almost scored a fantastic second goal late in the first half, with a fine passing move ending with left-back Lucas Hernandez shooting powerfully on target, but he as denied by a sharp save at the near post from the Peru goalkeeper.

‘Los Incas’ made a double change at the start of the second half, which included the introduction of forward Jefferson Farfan, and they very nearly equalised in the 50th minute, with Pedro Aquino’s swerving long range effort clipping the outside of the post.

That moment signalled the start of a sustained spell of dominance for the South American team, though they struggled to create any clear chances with which to test Lloris, while France almost extended their lead against the run of play on 81 minutes when substitute Ousmane Dembele sent a shot from the edge of the box just wide.

France will next look to defend top spot in the group when they play Denmark on June 26 in Moscow, while Peru will face an Australian side which still has a chance of qualifying in a concurrent match in Sochi.

France (1) 1 (Mbappe 34’)

Peru 0

France: Lloris, Pavard, Umtiti, Varane, Hernandez, Kante, Pogba (Nzonzi 89’), Matuidi, Mbappe (Dembele 75’), Giroud, Griezmann (Fekir 80’)

Peru: Gallese, Avindcula, Ramos, Rodriguez (Santamaria 46’), Trauco, Aquino, Yotun (Farfan 46’), Carillo, Cueva (Ruidiaz 82’), Flores, Guerrero

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