With Switzerland taking the lead against Honduras early on, it soon looked as if Ecuador would need to beat France if they were to progress. However, playing Enner Valencia as a lone striker seriously limited their attacking threat as they struggled to not only to gain entry to the French half, but keep and use the ball with any authority. Ecuador sat deep and with Paul Pogba covering ground and Morgan Schneiderlin holding well in the middle of the park the game soon became a frustrating one for Ecuador. Towards the end Ecuador turned up the heat and took the game to France but this effort was in vain and ultimately too little too late.
Tackling with two feet carries the risk of the ultimate punishment for players, and Antonio Valencia paid the highest price when he saw red for his challenge on Lucas Digne. Although not making contact with both feet, the Manchester United winger left the ground and with studs showing his high right foot made solid contact with Digne’s knee. The card made Ecuador’s task all the harder but surprising his side rallied after his dismissal and took the game to France.
After Valencia’s sending off, it was widely expected that France would power on to win the game and make it three victories from three but this wasn’t to be. A host of chances fell to Karim Benzema, Pogba and Antonie Griezmann but these weren’t taken. Boss Didier Deschamps rotated his forward options introducing Loic Remy and Olivier Giroud but this still couldn’t break the deadlock. Having scored and attacked so freely in their opening two matches they struggled to open up a dogged Ecuador side.
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