The guy who likes “Taking the L” dished one out to Uruguay in the World Cup quarterfinals.
Antoine Griezmann assisted on Rapahel Varane’s goal in the first half and scored in the second as France advanced to its first World Cup semifinal in 12 years with a 2-0 victory Friday in Nizhny Novogorod.
Grizemann, whose goal celebration mimicks a dance in the wildly popular co-op computer game Fortnite, got his chance to peform the move after La Celeste goalkeeper Fernando Muslera flapped at his left-footed drive in the 61st minute, deflecting it into the net to effectively end the match.
The Atletico Madrid striker’s stutter-step approaching a free kick from the right in the 40th minute moved the Uruguay defense just enough for Varane to flash in for a glancing header that Muslera had no chance to stop from going inside the left post. It was Varane’s third international goal and first since a friendly versus Brazil in 2015.
Griezmann’s goal was his third at this World Cup and first in the run of play after converting a penalty in group play and against Argentina in the round of 16. Les Bleus are through to the semifinals for the sixth time in club history and for the first time since 2006, when they lost to Italy on penalties in the final.
Uruguay was denied its second semifinal appearance in the last three World Cups as it failed to find help for Luis Suarez without injured strike partner Edinson Cavani. La Celeste’s best scoring chances came almost straightaway after Varane’s goal, with France keeper Hugo Lloris making two quality saves on back-to-back set pieces right before halftime.
He first denied Nahitan Nandez off a corner, but his second save was one of the best at this tournament. The Tottenham Hotspur No. 1 made a full stretch to his right to palm away Martin Caceres’ downward header off a free kick, and Lloris quickly scrambled to his feet and altered Diego Godin’s path to the rebound as he blazed the ball over the bar from close range.
Without Cavani, sidelined with a calf injury, Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez inserted Cristhian Stuani to partner with Suarez up front. The Girona forward, however, fluffed his lines on his first scoring opportunity in the fourth minute as he failed to cleanly connect on a cross from Diego Laxalt.
Stuani, though, was not shy about continuing the tradition of Uruguay’s physical play as he launched into a heavy challenge on France wide back Lucas Hernandez. La Celeste threatened on the first corner of the match as Godin flicked it into the mixer, but Lloris aggressively punched the ball forward from danger.
Kylian Mbappe had an unmarked header on a cross from Olivier Giroud in the 16th goal he probably wished he had volleyed since he looped it over the bar. Suarez put in a crunching shoulder on Benjamin Pavard in the 23rd minute, knocking the right back to the ground in a heap as the physical battles raged all over the pitch.
France tried to pick out Giroud on a pair of occasions, but Paul Pogba’s cross was intercepted by Muslera and a second by Pavard was just beyond the Chelsea target forward’s reach.
Hernandez picked up a professional yellow card for tugging at Nandez’s jersey shortly after the half-hour, and referee Nestor Pitana booked Rodrigo Bentancur in the 38th minute for a late challenge on Corentin Tolisso.
Muslera did well to punch a free kick from Mbappe in a dangerous low area on the right and also took out Pogba in the process in the 49th minute. Tabarez pulled an ineffective Stuani just before the hour for Maxi Gomez and also introduced Cristian Rodriguez to narrow the field for La Celeste, only for those plans to come undone by Muslera’s howler.
Rodriguez and Mbappe were booked in the 67th minute as Rodriguez’s foul on the French teen caused tempers to flare between Godin and Pogba. Les Bleus proved to be comfortable on the ball protecting the lead, seeking a third to kill off the match while not allowing themselves to be pulled out of shape to create a potential Uruguay counter.
In the final minutes, the impending defeat was too much to take for Uruguay defender and Griezmann’s club teammate Jose Maria Gimenez, who was openly in tears on the pitch as his team failed to unlock France’s effective defense and possession.