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France vs Denmark | Coastweek
MOSCOW, (Xinhua) -- Olivier Giroud (R) of France vies with Simon Kjaer of Denmark during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Group C match between Denmark and France in Moscow, Russia, June 26, 2018. XINHUA PHOTO: WANG YUGUO
France draw with Denmark in Russia
World Cup’s first goalless match

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- The game between France and Denmark ended up to be the first Russia World Cup game without a single goal on Tuesday.

The boring game drew boos from 78,000 spectators in the Luzhniki Stadium as France advanced into the knockout stage as Group C winners on seven points and Denmark placed second. Peru beat Australia 2-0 in the other Group match and both were eliminated.

France, resting more than half of their first-choice players, dominated the game for most of the time but failed to score. In fact, Les Bleus only had three shots on target, while the Danes had two.

In the 33rd minute, unmarked Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele fired a shot from the distance, which went wide. Eight minutes later, Antoine Griezmann had another attempt, which didn’t seem to cause big trouble for Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

The Danes, for whom a draw was enough to secure a spot in the knockout stage, didn’t have their first shot on target until first-half injury time.

Spectators could only sense a touch of World Cup match in the 70th minute, when Nabil Fekir, the substitute who went off the bench a minute ago, curled a decent shot, which hit the left side of the net. Twelve minutes later his low drive from the distance again ignited fans’ hope for a goal, until it was saved by Schmeichel.

This is the first goalless match between both teams on the World Cup stage. In their previous two encounters each side had a win - France in 1998 and Denmark in 2002.

“This is the first time that we want to be very compact in the back,” said the Age Hareide, coach of Denmark. “Our goal is to progress to the last 16. We had a tough group, perhaps one of the toughest.”

When asked about the jeers, Hareide said: “We are against one of the best teams in the world. The French team is strong in counter-attack. We will be stupid to open a lot of space.”

He especially talked about Peru, who, shut out of the knockout stage, beat Australia 2-0 in the group match at the same time. “Peru played the best in our team,” he said. “But football is an ongoing process and you have to be able to handle different styles.”

French coach Didier Deschamps, who was a player of Les Bleus in 1998 when the team won the World Cup, admitted that the game has not ended up a very exciting match.

“Because the Danish team were satisfied with a draw as it meant they would qualify,” he said. “But all the same, while their defence was very good, we had a number of scoring opportunities. We didn’t need to take risks in the match though as this result was OK for everyone. We tried to get a win but the last 15 minutes was, shall we say, a ‘neutral’ kind of match. It was a choice on Denmark’s part and you can understand it because they had reached their goal.”

“What we wanted was to qualify for the round of 16 and finish top of our group, and that is what we have managed,” said N’Golo Kante, who was later selected Man of the Match. “It was difficult to find weak points in the Danish defence but we’ve got to where we wanted to be.”

France will face the runner-up in Group D in the knockout round, while Denmark will play against the winner of that group.



Former France footballer Lizarazu: France will improve

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- France are improving, said Bixente Lizarazu in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Tuesday evening after the match between France and Denmark.

Lizarazu, 48-year-old former defender of team France when they won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championships, watched the match which ended with the first goalless draw at this World Cup.

“It is not the most beautiful game in the competition,” he told Xinhua. “Denmark just defended so in the end the game is not funny to see.”

In the Luzhniki Stadium where 78,000 spectators watched with boos, the match appeared boring, but enough for both teams to enter the knockout stage.

Lizarazu showed understanding to the performance. “These three matches are in one competition, and then there is another one when you play one game and you can go home or you can continue. Totally different.”

“So this match is like everyone said ‘OK we can continue’,” he added.

When asked if France could improve in following matches, Lizarazu gave a positive reply.

“Yes we will improve,” he said. “In 2016 we were No. 2 and this time we have finished the final.”

France will face Argentina in the knockout round on Saturday.



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