Second string France held to a goalless draw by Ecuador
A second-string France side clinched top spot in World Cup Group E while Ecuador, who had captain Antonio Valencia sent off, were eliminated after a 0-0 draw at the Maracana stadium on Thursday June 26.
Ecuador, who had to play most of the second half with 10 men after Valencia’s dismissal in the 50th minute, became the only one of the six South American sides not to progress.
Ecuador's Antonio Valencia was sent off for a challenge on Lucas Digne which left the France left back needing treatment.
Valencia played the ball and caught Digne with his follow-through and, while there was little protest from the French players, Ivorian referee Noumandiez Doue brandished the red card.
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, who had an outstanding game, tipped over a powerful header from Paul Pogba.
It was not a performance that will have excited France’s fans but Deschamps was delighted to reach the knockout stage.
“Nothing will spoil our satisfaction tonight. We were there to qualify for the last 16 and we finished top of the group.
"We were up against a team that was strong in defence even with 10 men,” he said.
Ecuador knew they needed a victory to have any hope of progressing but they struggled to create many chances in the first half and then had to attack with a numerical disadvantage.
Ecuador coach Reinaldo Ruedo said Antonio Valencia’s sending off had cost his team dearly.
“It was a pity all that happened. I am very respectful of referees and it is now a done deal that we can do nothing about,” he said.
“But we lost a very important man for our structure, the most experienced and one who means a lot for Ecuador, and we suffered."
France will face Nigeria in the second round on July 7.