SHARE
COPY LINK
WORLD CUP 2014

WORLD CUP

France top group after draw with Ecuador

France qualified for the knock-out phase of the World Cup after a 0-0 draw with Ecuador at the Maracana stadium in Rio di Janeiro on Wednesday. France will now play Nigeria in the last 16.

France top group after draw with Ecuador
France qualify safely for the knock out phase of the World Cup finals on Wednesday. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

Didier Deschamps' French side will face a last 16 tie against Nigeria after drawing 0-0 with Ecuador in Rio di Janeiro on Wednesday.

France controlled the match against and had numerous chances to score but could not find a way past Ecuador's goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.

The South American side were reduce to ten men when winger Antonio Valencia was sent off in the second half for a dangerous tackle on France's Lucas Digne.

France, who had scored eight goals in their two previous games, powered forward from the start.

But through luck, determination, bad finishing and brilliant goalkeeping by Alexander Dominguez, Ecuador resisted even after captain and Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia was ordered off early in the second half for a studs up challenge on Lucas Digne.

The South Americans had chances to steal the game from the French, but bowed out of the World Cup as Switzerland beat Honduras 3-0 to grab second place in Group E. The Swiss will now play Argentina in the last 16.

Ecuador's goalkeeper Dominguez was constantly in the thick of the action

He parried away one cross that just kept the ball away from Karim Benzema who was stood before an open goal. Dominguez also made a desperate stretch to keep out a Paul Pogba header.

Ecuador midfielder Christian Noboa was less lucky when he suffered a head wounded in an aerial skirmish. Blood seeped through the bandage he wore through the game.

Almost straight from the restart, Bakary Sagna fired the ball into the penalty area and Antoine Griezmann deftly directed it towards the goal. Dominguez's reflex save pushed the ball onto the post and away to safety.

Valencia then lunged in clumsily on Paris St Germain defender Digne and scraped his studs up and down the Frenchman's leg.

Ecuador still held the French attack at bay. Blaise Matuidi fired straight at Dominguez from point blank and Benzema saw a shot deflected wide.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

FOOTBALL

France plans to keep growing women’s game after World Cup disappointment

France faces the challenge of continuing to develop women's football after the bitter disappointment of elimination from the World Cup by the United States.

France plans to keep growing women's game after World Cup disappointment
France players after the defeat against USA. Photo: AFP

“Back to Earth” was how sports daily L'Equipe put it after the host nation lost 2-1 to the holders in a quarter-final played out before a feverish crowd in Paris.

L'Equipe talked of “the disappointment of a shattered adventure” because coach Corinne Diacre's team had dreamt of emulating the men, World Cup winners in Russia last year and also winners as hosts in 1998.

The team had been desperate to make it to Lyon, where the semi-finals and final will be played and where seven of those who featured for France on Friday play their club football for Europe's top side.

Instead, France find themselves out of a fifth straight major tournament in the quarter-finals. To rub salt into the wounds, Friday's defeat had the knock-on effect of denying them a place at next year's Olympics.

Diacre had been set the objective of reaching the final, which always looked a daunting challenge once the draw raised the likelihood of an early meeting with the USA.

Amid the dejection on Friday, Diacre stated her wish to continue, and on Saturday French Football Federation (FFF) President Noel Le Graet confirmed she would stay.

“She will be in charge until the end of her contract, if not longer,” Le Graet told AFP.

That means until Euro 2021 in England at least, and the aim in France is to keep developing the women's game to give them a chance of one day going all the way.

The FFF hope the number of registered female players will reach 200,000 next year, an increase of almost 10 percent from present figures, but far from the two million registered male players.

They have also promised to invest 15 million euros into a post-World Cup “legacy” fund.

The interest in the women's game is there, as shown by television audiences during the World Cup, with 11.8 million watching the USA game on terrestrial TV.

However, translating that to an increased following in the women's domestic league will be a bigger challenge.

France games have drawn sell-out crowds at the World Cup, but in general attendances in domestic competition are modest at best, even if almost 26,000 saw powerhouses Lyon beat closest rivals Paris Saint-Germain earlier this year.

“We cannot go from so much enthusiasm now to league matches on poor pitches with only 120 fans,” said Le Graet. “We all need to make an effort and we will.”

Matches are televised, but like elsewhere income remains light years from rights deals in the men's game — a new sponsorship contract for the 12-club top flight with chemicals company Arkema is worth one million euros per season for three years.

Average salaries are reportedly around 3,500 euros per month, although stars like Amandine Henry and Wendie Renard are believed to earn almost 10 times that at Lyon, who have won the Champions League in the last four years. Again, those sums are dwarfed by the wages often on offer to the men.

“We need to keep putting money in, keep professionalising, because other countries are doing it and maybe that's why they are ahead of us,” warned Lyon and France forward Eugenie Le Sommer.

“We have a good league but unfortunately not every team is professional.

“There are countries who are ahead of us and we must catch up. Even Spain are putting lots of money in and we need to make sure we are not left behind.”

READ ALSO: France coach laments 'failure' as hosts knocked out of World Cup

SHOW COMMENTS