France and Ecuador played to a scoreless draw on Wednesday in a match that saw Antonio Valencia sent off for a reckless challenge on Lucas Digne. The French only needed a draw to claim first place in the group, and it showed, as they didn't have show the aggressiveness and urgency we'd seen in the first two matches. The result moves France in the next round, where they will face Nigeria on June 30.
The first half was a pretty tight affair with a fair amount of physical play and hard tackles. Ecuador's Cristian Noboa ended up with a rather unflattering hat after a he got a cut on his head, while France's Blaise Matuidi game up limping after a hard tackle.
Both teams got chances late in the half, but neither could break through with the opening goal.
In the 38th minute when Paul Pogba got a free header in the box off a corner kick. Pogba was able to get a clean strike on the ball, but Alecander Domínguez reacted quickly, palming the ball over the crossbar. Two minutes later, Hugo Lloris denied Enner Valencia on towering, close range header as he was able to get enough on the ball to keep it out of the goal.
France nearly took the lead right out of the locker room when Bacary Sagna's cross found Antoine Griezmann in front of goal. Somehow, Domínguez managed to block the shot and keep the match scoreless.
In the 50th minute, Ecuador's chances took a blow when winger Antonio Valencia was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on France defender Lucas Digne. Valencia came over the ball on a tackle and put his studs into Digne's led. The referee took his time with the decision, and correctly decided to send the Ecuadorian player off.
France had there chances with the man advantage, but were unable to find a goal. Alecander Domínguez deserves a ton of credit for the lack of goals as well, as he made several outstanding saves to deny the French. In the end though, since it didn't affect France's place in the group standings though, it really didn't matter.
France: Lloris, Digne, Sakho (Varane 60'), Koscielny, Sagna, Matuidi (Giroud 67'), Schneiderlin, Pogba, Sissoko, Benzema, Griezmann (Rémy 78')
Ecuador: Domínguez, Ayoví, Erazo, Guagua, Paredes, Montero (Ibarra 63'), Noboa (Caicedo 89'), Minda, A. Valencia, Arroyo (Achilier 82'), E. Valencia