What seemed improbable until now finally happened, as France and Denmark played out the first goalless draw of this World Cup – both sides creating chances few and far in between at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moskva on Tuesday.
That both sides preferred a draw over defeat was clear right from the start and results elsewhere only played into their demands. The stalemate though received a lot of boos from fans in the stands but it ensured both of them an entry into the knockouts, with France confirming first-place in Group C. Denmark meanwhile came second and sealed a date against Croatia in the last 16.
France fielded a second-string side and Denmark were happy to defend deep, both never really letting the game open-up and it took 70 minutes for the game’s first breathtaking moment, when substitute Nabil Fekir curled a shot into goal from outside the box that stretched Kasper Schmeichel, who dived low to keep it out.
‘Les Bleus‘ had come close just once prior to that when Antoine Griezmann broke loose on a counter during the last seconds of first-half almost single-handedly running into the Danish box until he was forced down by Nicolai Jørgensen, who earned a booking for the team’s sake.
Didier Deschamps’s substitutions however came near-perfect for the 1998 champions as France pushed forward one final time in the last quarter. They had parked just outside the Denmark box but Olivier Giroud’s wastefulness – the striker thrice skied his shot from scoring situations – and France’s incapability to break Denmark’s resistance meant the boos only grew louder as the referee blew his whistle one final time.
Denmark were helped by Peru’s goals, which ensured them qualification but till the 18th minute – that is when Peru scored their first goal – the ‘Danish Dynamites’ looked the only side who wanted to score. In the end however it was a disappointing outing for them and although they were content with a single point, the fact that they managed just one shot on target in 90 minutes of play will give coach Age Hareide plenty to think before their pre-quarterfinal match against Croatia on July 1.
Peru record first win in 40 years
Peru notched up their first World Cup win in nearly 40 years, brushing aside Australia 2-0 at the Fisht Stadium on Sunday. André Carrillo had put them ahead in the 18th minute before Paolo Guerrero doubled the lead, becoming the third oldest South American at 34-years of age to ever score at the grandest stage.
Uruguay’s Obdulio Jacinto Varela and Argentina’s Martin Palermo remain the only two players ahead of the Peruvian legend who returned from a Drug ban to lead his country to their first win this edition and first since the 4-1 victory over Iran in 1978.
Peru however had already been eliminated after consecutive defeats to Denmark and France and it was Australia instead who needed a victory to have a chance of qualifying into the knockouts.
But their hope was killed even before the Socceroos could settle into the game when Carrillo, on loan at Watford, struck with a 18th minute volley well past goalkeeper Mat Ryan. It sinked Australia’s chances and although Tom Rogic created opportunities soon after, Australia failed to equalise.
The Celtic attacking midfielder for all his efforts was presented with a wonderful chance to equalise just minutesafter the goal, but with striker Tomi Juric open infront of an empty goal, Rogic took a shot that was tame and straight at Ryan. He then soon made amends and created for Mathew Leckie to tap-in but Peru defenders intervened and kicked the ball out for a corner.
From thereon Australia never really looked like scoring and their chances of making it to the last 16 were only diminished, when Guerrero latched on to a through ball before poking it past Ryan in the 50th minute.
Both Australia and Peru head home, but the latter will return happier after clinching their first victory in many years.