NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia – Goals from Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann guide France into the World Cup semifinals after beating Uruguay 2-0 in the last eight.
France was progressing to the semifinals for the first time since losing to Italy in the final in 2006.
Varane opened the scoring the 40th minute when the Real Madrid defender left his marker to head home from a free-kick past Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
Hugo Lloris made a brilliant save shortly before the interval to keep the score at 1-0 and it turned out to be a key moment in the game.
Muslera was left with egg on his face after he was to be blamed for Griezmann’s second-half goal.
The experienced goalkeeper tried to parry away a long-range shot from Griezmann, but the ball deflected off both hands and went into the goal.
Griezmann, who has ties to Uruguay did not celebrate scoring.
“When I started as a professional I was supported by a Uruguayan who taught me about the good and the bad, so I have a lot of respect for Uruguay as a country and I was also playing against my friends,” Griezmann said after the game.
“I thought it was normal not to celebrate my goal.”
The last two times France advanced to the World Cup semifinals, it reached the final on both occasions in 1998, when it won the world title on home soil, and in 2006, when it lost the final to Italy on penalties.
Uruguay struggled breakdown France defence and certainly missed the service of striker Edinson Cavani, who sat out the game with an injured left calf injury he picked up in the win over Portugal in a round of 16 match.
France faces either Brazil or Belgium in the semifinals.
Despite the defeat, Uruguay captain Diego Godin was proud of how the team represented itself.
“I’m proud of my team mates – they were lions,” said Godin.
“We are a team where everyone gives everything in the matches and in preparation..I just have words of gratitude for my team mates,” he added.
Speaking about the unfortunate incident with Muslera, Godin added: “Fernando is a great goalkeeper.
“… We all make mistakes.. On other occasions, he has rescued us with incredible saves.”