Uruguay were seeking to make the semifinals for the second time in the last three World Cup tournaments while France had not gotten as far since the 2006 tournament. But two goals in either half gave France a hard-fought 2-0 win.
A deft header by Raphael Varane in the first half was followed by a howler by Fernando Muslera after he misjudged a speculative effort from Antoine Griezmann.
Uruguay started without the injured Edinson Cavani while Corentin Tolisso replaced the suspended Blaise Matuidi and both teams started brightly. Jose Gimenez left his mark on Olivier Giroud as early as the second minute.
From the first corner of the match, Uruguay created a great scoring chance. Diego Godin nodded goalward and with Gimenez ready to get his foot on the ball, Hugo Lloris came out bravely to punch away.
On 15 minutes, Les Bleus had their first goal scoring chance and it fell to Mbappe, who could not direct his header goalward after been found by Giroud with a headed pass.
Mbappe got his first chance to run at the Uruguayan defence in the 26th minute when he took off past Diego Laxalt but his cut back, which eluded Fernando Muslera, had no French takers in the Uruguayan box.
Lucas Hernandez was shown the first yellow of the encounter in the 34t minute for pulling back Nahitan Nandez after he failed to control a pass from N’Golo Kante. Rodrigo Bentancur followed France’s left back into the book five minutes later for a bad foul on Tolisso. The midfielder would miss Uruguay’s next match.
The goal arrived on 40 minutes and it came through a header from Raphael Varane, who got ahead of Godin from an Antoine Griezmann free kick. Uruguay almost equalised through a Caceres header on 42 minutes but Lloris produced a world-class save to deny the defender.
The second half started with Muslera almost gifting Griezmann the ball. Muslera then had to punch away a freekick from getting to Paul Pogba’s head and he would have had an empty net to nod into.
On 55 minutes, Umtiti dallied on the ball in his box and was robbed but Bentancur’s shot went well wide. Stuani was pulled off in the 58th minute and Gomez sent on just as Cristian Rodriguez replaced Bentancur.
Tolisso went down after an elbow from Nandez but the referee waved away his appeals. Muslera then gifted France a second goal on 61 minutes as he allowed Griezmann’s speculative effort to evade his gloves.
There was a flashpoint in the 68th minute after Mbappe went to ground after minimal contact from substitute, Rodriguez. Both players were each shown a yellow card with the Uruguayans incensed with what they saw as playacting.
Tolisso went close with a bending effort on 72 minutes as the French comfortably controlled the tempo of the match. Tabarez sent on his last piece in Jonathan Urretaviscaya in the 73rd minute as Uruguay started throwing everything including the kitchen sink at France.
France made their first change with 10 minutes left on the clock with Tolisso going off for Steven Nzonzi. Hernadez held off the run of Urretaviscaya as Uruguay ran out of offensive ideas. Nabil Fekir came on in added time for his customary appearance in Russia.
Many had complained about the choice of Nestor Pitana – an Argentina as the centre referee but Uruguay manager, Oscar Tabarez said ”It’s a coincidence, but we have not won a game when this referee has taken charge. It doesn’t really matter if he’s Argentinian or not, he’s a good referee, that’s all that matters.”
In the end, France proved too strong for Uruguay and will wait in the semis for either Brazil or Belgium, who meet later on Friday evening.
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