France and Ecuador played to a 0-0 draw in the teams’ testy final Group E match at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Les Bleus only needed a draw to advance to the Round of 16, and when Ecuador captain Antonio Valencia was sent off with a straight red card in the 50th minute, it was all but official.
France carried the play for nearly the entire match, and did everything but score thanks to some great saves from Ecuador keeper Alexander Domínguez.
Ecuador needed a win to have a shot at progression, but didn’t provide much in the way of attacking flair until the dying minutes of the match.
But by then it was way too late. The 3-0 result by Switzerland over Honduras meant Ecuador needed to win by two goals to advance. La Tri couldn’t, and the Swiss are joining France in the Round of 16.
Valencia was shown the door after a dangerous studs-up challenge on Lucas Digne, forcing La Tri to try and find a goal down a man for the rest of the match.
With France only needing a draw to win Group E, Valencia’s red card basically killed the match. The French were clearly the better team, and were content to sit with possession for the rest of the game.
Man of the match
Alexander Domínguez. The only reason France didn’t score. The Ecuador keeper faced nearly constant pressure, and made nine(!) saves in the match. If only Ecuador merely needed a draw to advance…
It was a good day for…
Getting kicked in the leg. You expected someone to see red in this ill-tempered match, and it ended up being Valencia. But both sides were guilty of same bad challenges. Officially, 23 fouls were committed (17 by Ecuador, sisxby France) and Ecuador got two cards (one yellow, one red).
It was a bad day for…
Sanitary work conditions. Ecuador’s Christian Noboa and France’s Blaise Matuidi collided in the 27th minute, putting both on the ground. Both were ok, but Noboa needed some extra headwear to keep a bloody bandage secure on his head. It didn’t seem to keep the blood secure though.
Dominguez’s nine saves against France are the most in a World Cup match so far in 2014.
They said it
"We did everything we could to score, but you can’t win every match 3-0, and while I know we weren’t quite as effective as we were against Switzerland, Ecuador are a very fine side who have a lot of pace up front," said France manager Didier Deschamps.
"It’s been a very short tournament. We’ve paid for our bad performance against Switzerland at the start, knowing that we were going to be finishing off against France," said Reinaldo Rueda, Ecuador manager. "We tried to play our best football, but my players have had a long season and didn’t arrive at the World Cup in the greatest shape."
What this means
Les Bleus couldn’t break through against Ecuador, but that won’t worry them too much, as they created a ton of chances and were stymied by a great goalkeeping performance. The French won Group E handily and are playing their best football since the run to the 2006 final. Next up is a knockout round clash with Nigeria on Monday (CBC TV, cbc.ca/fifaworldcup, Noon ET).
A misfiring offence under pressure and poor defensive play are the culprits for Ecuador’s exit. La Tri earned the dubious distinction of being the only South American side not to progress to the Round of 16.