12:00 AM, June 26, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

France held, yet top group

France held, yet top group

Reuters, Rio de Janeiro

France took top spot in World Cup Group E while 10-man Ecuador were eliminated after a sprightly 0-0 draw at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.
France now face Nigeria in the last 16 in Brasilia on June 30.
Ecuador, who had to play most of the second half with 10 men after Antonio Valencia's dismissal in the 50th minute, became the only one of the six South American sides not to progress.
France topped the group with seven points while Switzerland finished on six, Ecuador ended with four and Honduras none.
With little pressure on France, who were all but assured of a place in the second round, coach Didier Deschamps made six changes to his starting line-up.
Ecuador knew they needed a victory to have any hope of progressing but they struggled to create many opportunities.
A relaxed-looking France team had the better of the early exchanges, but it was not until the 38th minute that they truly threatened when Ecuador keeper Alexander Dominguez tipped over a powerful header from Paul Pogba.
Ecuador's only first-half opportunity came when Michael Arroyo burst down the left flank and Enner Valencia met his cross with a downward header which was blocked by the feet of France keeper Hugo Lloris.
France almost broke the deadlock shortly after the interval when Bacary Sagna crossed from the right and Antoine Griezmann's volley bounced off Dominguez on to the post.
Ecuador's hopes suffered a major blow, though, moments later when Antonio Valencia was sent off for a challenge on Lucas Digne which left the France left back needing treatment.
However, the decision brought Ecuador to life and they should have had the lead when Cristian Noboa was put through by Enner Valencia but lost his balance and screwed a shot wide.
Pogba missed a great chance for France in the 73rd minute when, unmarked at the back post, he headed wide.


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