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Paul Pogba steps up, Antoine Griezmann struggles as France grab narrow win

France are through to the last 16 of the World Cup after beating Peru 1-0 in Ekatrinburg thanks to a first-half Kylian Mbappe strike.

It was not pretty at times, but Les Bleus got the job done after Didier Deschamps made two changes to the starting XI that beat Australia in the Group C opener last Saturday.


The result and qualification. It might not have been the sexiest win, but France have made it out of the group stage after two matches and will advance in top spot if they can avoid defeat against Denmark. With the pressure well and truly off, Deschamps can now afford to experiment against the Danes -- if he chooses to.

The French tactician brought Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi back into the starting XI after benching them against the Aussies and the pair made an immediate difference, with the Chelsea man involved in the only goal of the game. 

Otherwise, Paul Pogba was much, much better in midfield and N'Golo Kante shone alongside him as Mbappe grabbed the headlines with his goal.


It was another largely unimaginative showing, although it did have its moments, and the feeling that Deschamps can get far more out of this squad than he is at present lingers heavily.

Antoine Griezmann was particularly disappointing, while France allowed Peru to dominate them towards the end. It has worked, for now, but Deschamps must find a way to free his players more and sealing qualification might do just that, leading to better displays moving forward.

Manager rating out of 10

6 -- Deschamps restoring Giroud and Matuidi to his starting XI was the right decision, even if it was not universally popular. The former played a role in Mbappe's goal, while the latter was tireless and showed plenty of heart.     

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Hugo Lloris (c), 7 -- Celebrating his 100th cap at Central Stadium, he put in another good performance and made a vital, low, first-half save to deny Paolo Guerrero and another useful stop late on. Luck was on the Tottenham Hotspur man's side as Pedro Aquino hit the woodwork, but he earned that fortune.

DF Benjamin Pavard, 6 -- It was a balanced showing from a player still finding his feet at international level. Although his link-up with Mbappe going forward left a bit to be desired, he was solid defensively and was helped out little by the Paris Saint-Germain man.

DF Raphael Varane, 7 -- The more dominant of the two French central defenders, he was unlucky to not open the scoring with a first-half header from a Griezmann corner. Otherwise, the Real Madrid man was consistently a calming presence at the back, unlike Samuel Umtiti.

DF Samuel Umtiti, 5 -- It was not his best outing in the blue of France and Guerrero was able to shake him off to create Peru's best chance, which was thwarted by Lloris. The Barcelona man took a knock early in the second half, so perhaps deserves to be cut a bit of slack, but he will feel that he could have done better.

DF Lucas Hernandez, 6 -- Although he was not afforded many chances to go forward, he did force a good save out of Pedro Gallese on the rare occasion when he was able to get involved in the attack. Otherwise, it was solid enough for only his second competitive international outing.

MF N'Golo Kante, 8 -- Simple but effective -- he was a bit redundant at times against Australia, but he came into his own against Peru, with octopus tentacle-like ability to dispossess the South Americans and regain possession.

MF Paul Pogba, 7 -- Aside from a booking late on, it was an improvement on his display against the Aussies. He was the architect behind Mbappe's goal, winning the ball back and feeding Giroud before the ball eventually found its way to the PSG man for a tap-in.b

Paul Pogba stepped up his game to guide France to a key win over Peru.
Paul Pogba's steal and lovely through ball set up France's goal against Peru.

FW Kylian Mbappe, 7 -- The matchwinner was more involved than he was against Australia and was able to demonstrate on a few occasions exactly why he is viewed as the brightest young talent in Russia this summer. At 19 years and 183 days, he is the youngest scorer at an international competition for France and is the first player born post-1998 to score at a World Cup.

MF Antoine Griezmann, 5 -- Once again below-par and now in real danger of being rested against Denmark. He missed a good early chance, but faded after that. He did supply the corner that nearly saw Varane open the scoring and was involved in some neat play between the French attackers towards the end of the first half.

FW Blaise Matuidi, 6 -- Restored to the starting XI and deployed on the left, he ran himself into the ground for 90 minutes. He might have picked up a first-half yellow card, but Les Bleus had more of a presence on the left side with him and Hernandez received more support than against Australia.

FW Olivier Giroud, 7 -- He did not get a goal, but he was involved in the build-up to Mbappe's and was combative in attack all match long. His combination of experience, character and physicality added muscle to the French attack.


FW Ousmane Dembele, NR -- Given 15 minutes at the end at Mbappe's expense, it was enough time for him to go close to making the game safe at 2-0. With Griezmann struggling, Deschamps might fancy him against Denmark.

MF Nabil Fekir, NR -- Sent on with 10 minutes to go in place of the disappointing Griezmann, he could have done with France being a bit more attack-minded that late in the match. That said, the Atletico Madrid man's struggles might have created an opening for the Lyon star against the Danes.

MF Steven Nzonzi, NR -- Afforded the final minute and added time, he picked up where Pogba left off in the middle.

Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.


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