World Cup Round Up: Match Day 18

Pool

The penultimate day of Last 16 action treated us with yet more fascinating football.

France were the first team to secure their quarter final spot of the day, finally overcoming a Nigeria side, who will no doubt be frustrated that they didn't make it through themselves.

Emanuel Emineke, thought he'd put his country ahead early on when he poked home a lofted ball into the box. But the linesman on the far side raised his flag for offside, and he was correct in doing so.

The much improved Paul Pogba then drove forward with the ball, leaving a challenger in his wake, he laid the ball off to Valbuena and carried on his run. The winger then found Pogba with a cross, and the Juventus midfielder's first time volley brought out the first of many great saves from Vincent Enyeama.

The half was an end-to-end affair, with both teams looking vulnerable defensively. But Matthieu Debuchy's shot which evaded the goal, was the only other notable chance of the half.

Into the second half and Nigeria were hit with an injury when Ogenyi Onazi, had to be taken off after a nasty challenge from Blaise Matuidi, one which he should have seen more than a yellow card for.

Despite that set back, Nigeria controlled the early stages of the second half, and if it wasn't for Hugo Lloris, Peter Odemwingie would have taken the lead for the Super Eagles, with a low shot on goal.

Didier Dechamps introduced Antoine Griezmann at around the hour mark, and the game suddenly swung in France's favour, with the extra pace and creativity on the wing and Karim Benzema moving into the middle.

Those two quickly combined, splitting the Nigeria defence in half with a quick one-two, but as Benzema bore down on goal, Enyeama was out quickly to block his shot and then Victor Moses was on hand to hack it off the line, in what was the slowest goal line clearance ever.

John Obi Mikel then had to clear Benzema's driven shot off the line. The clearance fell to Yohan Cabaye, who after taking the ball down on his chest, hit a volley which smashed off the underside of the crossbar and was eventually cleared away.

You could sense that a goal was coming for the French, but it would be Enyeama, whose had such a great tournament, who'd gift them it. The goalkeeper came far out of his goal to try and punch Valbuena's in-swinging corner away but all he could get on the ball was a limp hand, it gave Paul Pogba an empty net to nod into and give France the lead with eleven minutes to go.

Nigeria tried to push for an equaliser, but struggled to win the ball back off France, so when Peter Odemwingie needlessly gave away a corner into injury time, the result looked set in stone. And it was.

It seemed like Nigeria thought the French would keep the ball in the corner and not actually go for goal, so they weren't fully concentrating when Valbuena did a  short one-two with Benzema then hit a low cross into the box, which deflected of Joseph Yobo and into the net.

Nigeria will feel aggrieved that they didn't make it to their first ever quarter final, but they should have made their large spells of dominance count. France, on the other hand, will be delighted to have made it to the quarters, especially after the farce of the last World Cup. But they'll have to step up their game a bit if they hope to go further.

Full Time: France 2-0 Nigeriia

79 - Pogba

90 - Yobo (OG)

MOTM: Mathieu Valbuena

This World Cup has been rather peculiar in that there have been so many goal, but yet, the standard of goalkeeping has been stupendous. Germany v Algeria, would be no different.

Algeria started the game brilliantly and were really taking the game to Germany, after surviving some early pressure, and if it wasn't for the superbly mental Manuel Neuer, they'd have won the game.

Germany were finding the loss of Matts Hummels hard, as their slow defence of four centre backs playing a high line, could not cope with the Algerian runners in behind, but Neuer, being the perfect sweeper he is, was out quickly on every occasion to clear the danger.

Islam Slimani nearly got the better of the German goalkeeper, when he momentarily got around him, but Neuer showed that he's Germany's best centre back with a well timed slide tackle.

Valencia's Sofiane Feghouli found him self in a dangerous position but he could only slice his cross wide, Slimani then stuck a wonderful diving header, into the corner of the net, but alas, he was offside and Faouzi Ghoulam powered forward from left back but could only hit his shot wide of the upright.

Algeria were playing really well, but you just felt that they were going to regret not taking their chances.

It was then the turn of Rais M'Bohli, to prove his quality in goal. He managed to get across his goal to parry Toni Kroos' dipping shot away and although he palmed the ball into a dangerous area, he was straight back up to smother Mario Götze's rebounded effort.

Germany had more chances as they came into the game more, with Özil and Müller both going close, as Germany finished the half strongly after taking a while to grow into the game.

Germany came out for the second half with a lot more intent, with Shürrle replacing Götze. The substitute was almost immediately involved, with his shot being deflected narrowly wide. Shkodran Mustafi lost his marker on a corner, but headed straight at M'Bohli, the goalkeeper then made a fine save to deny Philipp Lahm's rasping shot.

Alergia didn't set back however, and tried to hit Germany on the counter, but Neuer was again there to clear away. Neuer had 21 touches out side of his box, played 17 correct long balls, made four tackles and completed three dribbles in a simply incredible performance.

Feghouli hit a shot wide and Neuer had to save from Slimani, as Algeria would not back down.

But up at the other end, not to be outdone by his opposite number, M'Bohli made yet another great save. This time from Müller's powerful header. Essaid Belkalem then blocked Shürrle's rebound on the line.

The game grew later and later and it was becoming more apparent that'd we'd be getting even more extra time, but there was cause for laughter before the whistle blew. Germany had a free kick and in an unorthodox routine, Müller fell to the floor on his run up. Intentional or not, it was bloody funny.

So the game ended goalless as the best 0-0 I've ever watched.

Into extra time and the Alergian players were clearly tiring, with their fasting for Ramadan, possibly taking its tole on them.

Only two minutes into extra time, Germany took the lead.

It was a powerful run down the left from Müller, and his cross into the box was invertedly flicked in by Schürrle.

Mostefa hit a shot inches wide of the post from a corner for Algeria, showing that they weren't out of the game just yet, but Germany were in cruise control going into half time.

It would take a spirited effort on weary legs for Algeria to get back into the game, but despite their efforts, they conceded a second with a minute to go.

Lahm played a wonderful through ball to Schürrle, who laid it off to Özil, who unselfishly played it back to Schürrle, the Chelsea attacker's weak effort was blocked on the line but the clearance was poor and landed right into the path of Özil, who leathered the ball in.

Algeria weren't finished yet though, and they got the goal their performance deserved when substitute Abdel Djabou, turned in Feghouli's deep cross.

There was little time left and Algeria went in desperate search of an unthinkable equaliser, but the only chance they got was hardly a chance at all, Slimani did well to even get the header on target, but it didn't trouble Neuer.

Then the whistle blew and Algeria were heartbreakingly knocked out and Germany, as they always do, went through to the next round.

But Algeria really should have gone through, if only they'd taken their chances and their final ball was better. Remind you of anyone? Despite that, they can go home with their heads held high and I really hope this young, talented squad, continues to develop and does some real damage in World Cups to come.

Germany will meet France in the quarters, in what is set to be a thrilling encounter, with neither team look formidable at all.

Full Time: Germany 2-1 Algeria

92 - Shürrle  120 - Djabou

119 - Özil

MOTM: Manuel Neuer

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