Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Ecuador 0-0 France: Manchester United midfielder Antonio Valencia sees red as South Americans crash out of World Cup 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 25: Lucas Digne of France lies on the field after a challenge by Antonio Valencia of Ecuador (not pictured) resulting in a red card for Valencia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E match between Ecuador and France at Maracana on June 25, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Lucas Digne of France lies on the field after a challenge by Antonio Valencia of Ecuador
France fans wait for the beginning of the group E World Cup soccer match between Ecuador and France at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
France fans wait for the beginning of the group E World Cup soccer match between Ecuador and France at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 25:  Fans arrive before the Group E match between Ecuador and France during the 2014 FIFA World Cup at Maracana on June 25, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 25: Fans arrive before the Group E match between Ecuador and France during the 2014 FIFA World Cup at Maracana on June 25, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)

France secured top spot in Group E and a last 16 showdown with Nigeria as Ecuador's Manchester United midfielder Antonio Valencia saw red for a two-footed lunge in the Maracana.

Valencia, also sent off for tangling with Raheem Sterling in the friendly against England in Miami earlier this month, went over the top of the ball on Lucas Digne, leaving the referee in no doubt.

Ecuador fought on with 10 men to the end but, condemned to go out of the tournament by Switzerland's easy win over Honduras, had only pride as their reward for the 0-0 draw.

The game may have developed differently had the match officials spotted Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho's nasty elbow on Oswaldo Minda early on in the game.

Had Ivory Coast referee Noumandiez Doue seen the incident there is little doubt that Sakho would have been off, and it may be that he faces retrospective action from FIFA.

This was a tightly-fought affair from the start, with France shading the first half and Ecuador content to play on the break.

There were seven Premier League players in France's starting line-up, including first starts for Bacary Sagna and Laurent Koscielny, plus Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin.

There were a series of half-chances for France - Antoine Griezmann was a yard wide with a low strike, then Moussa Sissoko had a swing with a left-footed volley which was too easy for Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.

The best chance came when Digne, Paris St Germain's impressive 20-year-old left-back who was also making his World Cup debut, won a free-kick. Griezmann floated it over for Paul Pogba to thump a header goalwards but Dominguez was able to tip it over.

After Ecuador's Christian Noboa was forced to don a hair-net to cover up a bloody wound incurred from a clash of heads with Blaise Matuidi, the South Americans began to improve.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 25:  A France fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E match between Ecuador and France at Maracana on June 25, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
A France fan enjoys the atmosphere at Maracana in Rio de Janeiro

Michael Arroyo made a surging run and Enner Valencia was waiting to pounce but the midfielder tried to cross with the outside of his foot and it was too close to Hugo Lloris.

Enner Valencia, easily Ecuador's player of the tournament, did win a good header but once again Lloris was equal to it.

Dominguez then denied Griezmann but he knew little about it. Sagna's cross was met by Griezmann's powerful header which bobbled off the keeper's hands and on to the post before being cleared.

Then came Valencia's lunge on Digne, raking his studs down the full-back's leg and had it not been for a shinpad the outcome could have been much worse. France coach Didier Deschamps looked concerned on the touchline but after treatment Digne was able to continue.

Ecuador nearly caught France napping with a terrific break by Enner Valencia and Noboa should have scored but his first touch was horrendous and he sliced his shot well wide.

Matuidi was next to threaten after a nice touch from Karim Benzema but Dominguez saved well again, before Pogba was horribly wasteful from a free header at the far-post.

Benzema failed to trouble Dominguez from 20 yards, then after a quick break Michael Arroyo shot wildly wide for Ecuador.

Ecuador continued to threaten on the counter-attack, and Alex Ibarra had a powerful strike beaten away by Lloris, then there were more heroics from man-of-the-match Dominguez to keep out Benzema, Loic Remy and Olivier Giroud.

It may have been a comedown for France after their high-scoring exploits against Switzerland and Honduras but Deschamps will not complain - Les Bleus are unbeaten and marching into the last 16.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife galleries

More

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre