Pogba propels France into quarterfinals

22:40, Jun 30 2014
Neymar
Brazil's Neymar unsuccessfully appeals to referee Howard Webb for a foul.
Dani Alves
Brazil's Dani Alves makes a slide-tackle on Chile's Eugenio Mena.
Hulk
Hulk appeals to the assistant referee after having a goal for Brazil ruled out for a handball.
Alexis Sanchez
Chile's Alexis Sanchez waits for team-mates as he celebrates his first-half goal against Brazil.
David Luiz
David Luiz looks skyward in celebration of Brazil's first goal, which was later ruled an own-goal.
Arturo Vidal
Chile's Arturo Vidal steals a pass from in front of Brazil's Neymar.
Julio Cesar
Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar makes one of his two saves in the penalty shootout.
Chile team
A nervous bunch of Chilean players line up ahead of the penalty shootout.
Julio Cesar
Brazilian players swarm to goalkeeper Julio Cesar after defeating Chile 3-2 in a penalty shootout.
Neymar
Neymar puts a penalty shot past Claudio Bravo and into the net, the winning goal in the penalty shootout.
Dirk Kuyt
Holland's Dirk Kuyt battles for the ball with Mexico's Hector Herrera during their second round match in Fortaleza.
 Arjen Robben
Dutch winger Arjen Robben rides the tackle of Mexico captain Rafael Marquez during his side's 2-1 win.
 Arjen Robben
Netherlands midfielder Wesley Sneijder fires his side's equaliser past Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Robin van Persie
Netherlands striker Robin van Persie brings the ball under control.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Holland striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar celebrates scoring his side's winning goal from the penalty spot in injury time.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Giovani dos Santos wheels away after putting Mexico 1-0 up against the Netherlands.
Alvaro Gonzalez
Uruguay's Alvaro Gonzalez challenges Colombia's Pablo Armero during their second round match at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
James Rodriguez
James Rodriguez scores his second goal past Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera to put Colombia 2-0 up.
Cristian Rodriguez
Uruguay midfielder Cristian Rodriguez tackles Colombia's Pablo Armero during their second round match in Rio de Janeiro.
James Rodriguez
James Rodriguez celebrates scoring his and Colombia's second goal with his team-mates.
Alexander Mejia
James Rodriguez scores with a sublime volley to put Colombia 1-0 up against South American rivals Uruguay.
James Rodriguez
James Rodriguez scores with a sublime volley to put Colombia 1-0 up against South American rivals Uruguay.
Bryan Ruiz
Costa Rica's Bryan Ruiz celebrates scoring the opening goal in their second round match with Greece in Recife.
Joel Campbell
Costa Rica's Joel Campbell and Greece's Konstantinos Manolas compete for the ball.
Oscar Duarte
Costa Rica's Oscar Duarte (second left) is shown a red card after his second bookable offence by referee Benjamin Williams.
Bryan Ruiz
Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz (second right) scores his team's first goal past Greek goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis.
Cristian Gamboa
Costa Rica's Cristian Gamboa slides in to halt the progress of Greece's Jose Cholevas.
Giorgos Samaras
Greece striker Giorgos Samaras controls the ball under the close attentions of Costa Rica's Oscar Duarte.
Theofanis Gekas
Greek midfielder Theofanis Gekas sees his penalty kick saved by Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Michael Umana
Costa Rica’s Michael Umana fires the winning penalty past Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis during the penalty shootout.
Yeltsin Tejeda
Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda celebrates with team-mates after defeating Greece in a penalty shootout.
Raphael Varane
Raphael Varane of France controls the ball against Ahmed Musa of Nigeria during their clash at Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil.
Vincent Enyeama
Nigeria's Vincent Enyeama (right) checks on teammate Ogenyi Onazi as he lies on the pitch after a challenge against France.
Blaise Matuidi
France's Blaise Matuidi (14) and Mathieu Valbuena celebrate after winning their World Cup round of 16 game against Nigeria at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia.
Rio Mavuba
France's Mathieu Valbuena and Rio Mavuba (right) celebrate after winning their World Cup round of 16 game against Nigeria.
John Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel of Nigeria challenges Paul Pogba of France during their round of 16 match at Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil.
Raphael Varane
France's Raphael Varane is hit by the ball in the face beside Nigeria's Emmanuel Emenike (left).
Sofiane Feghouli
Algeria's Sofiane Feghouli is consoled by teammate Djamel Mesbah (back) after their loss to Germany at the Beira Rio stadium in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Thomas Mueller
Thomas Mueller of Germany attempts a shot against Rais M'Bolhi of Algeria during the round of 16 match between Germany and Algeria at Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Jerome Boateng
Jerome Boateng and Per Mertesacker of Germany celebrate their team's second goal in extra time against Algeria.
Mesut Ozil
Germany's Mesut Ozil celebrates scoring his side's second goal during extra time against Algeria at the World Cup.
Mehdi Lacen
Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger (left) fights for the ball with Algeria's Mehdi Lacen during extra time round of 16 game at the Beira Rio stadium in Porto Alegre.
Yacine Brahimi
Yacine Brahimi of Algeria controls the ball against Mesut Oezil (left) and Sami Khedira of Germany.
Marcos Rojo and Josif Drmic
Argentina's Marcos Rojo jostles with Switzerland's Josif Drmic for possession in Sao Paulo.
Kevin De Bruyne
Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne raises his arms in celebration as he watches his strike roll into the net.
Kevin De Bruyne
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne celebrate a goal in their round of 16 knockout clash against USA.
Kevin De Bruyne
Belgium's Divock Origi throws himself into the goal net, behind USA goalkeeper Tim Howard after narrowly missing a strike.
Angel Di Maria
Argentina's Angel Di Maria sends his love to the crowd while celebrating scoring against Switzerland in the round of 16.
Angel Di Maria
Switzerland's Valon Behrami jumps for the ball next to Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain.

Paul Pogba scored with a late header to finally break Nigeria's stubborn resistance and Joseph Yobo added an own-goal as France won 2-0 to reach the World Cup quarterfinals early today.

Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama had just made a superb save to tip over Karim Benzema's header, but he flapped at the ball from the ensuing corner and Pogba pounced in the 79th minute to nod in his first goal of the tournament.

Pogba atoned for a scrappy first half in which he gave the ball away carelessly and placed a volley too close to Enyeama. Scoring such a crucial goal will boost his confidence heading into the last eight game on Saturday at Rio's Maracana stadium against either Germany or Algeria.

Switzerland fan
A Switzerland fan arrives at the National stadium to watch his team play Ecuador.
Ecuador fans
Fans of Ecuador cheer before the start of the Group E match against Switzerland.
Header
Switzerland's Johan Djourou fights for the ball with Ecuador's Felipe Caicedo.
Contest
Gokhan Inler of Switzerland controls the ball against Juan Carlos Paredes of Ecuador.
Celebration
Switzerland's Haris Seferovic (9) celebrates his goal against Ecuador with his teammates
In Sync
Switzerland's Johan Djourou and Stephan Lichtsteinerf ight for the ball with Ecuador's Jefferson Montero.
Stadium
A general view as the teams line up prior to the Group E match between France and Honduras at Estadio Beira-Rio.
Karim Benzema
France's Karim Benzema shoots to score during the Group E match between France and Honduras.
Protest
Roger Espinoza and Oscar Boniek Garcia of Honduras protest France's second goal.
Own Goal
Goalkeeper Noel Valladares of Honduras scores an own goal, France's second, as he fumbles the ball over the line during the Group E match between France and Honduras.
Penalty
France's Paul Pogba falls near teammate Antoine Griezmann after being fouled by Wilson Palacios of Honduras.
Blaise Matuidi
France's Blaise Matuidi tries to score a goal during their Group E match against Honduras.
Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema of France celebrates a goal that came after the referee had blown full time during his side's win over Switzerland in Salvador, Brazil.
Ricardo Rodriguez
Ricardo Rodriguez of Switzerland fights off Mathieu Debuchy of France during the Group E match between Switzerland and France at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil.
Olivier Giroud
France's Olivier Giroud (top) celebrates with teammate Mathieu Valbuena their team's victory over Switzerland.
Xherdan Shaqiri
France's Karim Benzema (left) watches as Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri falls to the ground in front of him as they fight for the ball during their World Cup clash.
French fan
A French fan approaches France's Mathieu Valbuena and Yohan Cabaye after their 2014 World Cup Group E match against Switzerland at the Fonte Nova arena in Salvador, Brazil.
Enner Valencia
Enner Valencia (No 13) of Ecuador celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal against Honduras at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil.
Carlo Costly
Carlo Costly of Honduras celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Group E match between Honduras and Ecuador at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil.
Enner Valencia
Ecuador's Enner Valencia celebrates after scoring a goal past goalkeeper Noel Valladares of Honduras during their 2014 World Cup Group E football match at the Baixada arena in Curitiba.
Enner Valencia
Ecuador's Enner Valencia comes up with a novel way to celebrate after scoring a goal against Honduras.
Juan Carlos Garcia
Juan Carlos Garcia of Honduras controls the ball past Antonio Valencia of Ecuador during their clash at the World Cup.
Felipe Caicedo
Felipe Caicedo of Ecuador challenges Laurent Koscielny of France during their World Cup Group E match at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Olivier Giroud
France's Olivier Giroud (second right) reacts after missing a chance to score against Ecuador at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Walter Ayovi
Walter Ayovi of Ecuador reacts after a 0-0 draw with France at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Oscar Bagui
Oscar Bagui of Ecuador controls the ball against Loic Remy of France during their Group E World Cup match.
Walter Ayovi
Ecuador's Walter Ayovi fights for the ball with France's Moussa Sissoko (right) during their Group E match at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Paul Pogba
France's Paul Pogba (centre) fights for the ball with Ecuador's Cristian Noboa (right) during their 0-0 draw in Rio de Janeiro.
Granit Xhaka
Switzerland's Granit Xhaka (left) is challenged by Hondruas defender Juan Carlos Garcia during their Group E match at the Amazonia arena in Manaus.
Josip Drmic
Switzerland's Josip Drmic (top) fights for the ball with Honduras midfielder Wilson Palacios.
Xherdan Shaqiri
Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri fires his second goal past Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares.
Xherdan Shaqiri
Swiss playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri acknowledges the fans after his country's 3-0 victory over Honduras.
Ricardo Rodriguez
Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez falls into the net after clearing a shot by Jerry Bengston off the line.
Jerry Bengtson
Jerry Bengtson of Honduras (right) watches as his shot is cleared off the line by Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez.

''I'm very happy and proud to be among the last eight teams left, and honestly the players deserve it,'' France coach Didier Deschamps said.

''We have four days left to prepare for another battle.''

Yobo turned the ball into his own net in stoppage time under pressure from France substitute Antoine Griezmann - who made a big difference after replacing the ineffective Olivier Giroud in the 62nd.

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Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Group F match between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Argentina fan
Argentina fans wait for the Group F match between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Maracana
A general view of the stadium during the Group F match between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Maracana.
Challenge
Senad Lulic of Bosnia and Herzegovina challenges Lucas Biglia of Argentina.
Goal
Bosnia-Herzegovina's Vedad Ibisevic scores through the legs of Argentina's Sergio Romero.
Messi goal
Argentina's Lionel Messi scores a goal past Bosnia-Herzegovina's goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
Contest
Nigeria's Ogenyi Onazi fights for the ball with Iran's Reza Ghoochannejhad.
Battle
Iran's Ehsan Hajsafi and Nigeria's Peter Odemwingie jump for the ball.
Up and Over
Vincent Enyeama of Nigeria makes a save over teammate Joseph Yobo and Ashkan Dejagah of Iran.
John Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel of Nigeria controls the ball against Reza Ghoochannejhad of Iran.
Tackle
Peter Odemwingie of Nigeria falls after a challenge by Andranik Teymourian of Iran.
Iran fans
Supporters hold up the Iran flag.
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi celebrates his stoppage-time goal as Argentina defeated Iran 1-0.
Angel di Maria
Argentina's Angel di Maria takes a corner kick against Iran.
Ashkan Dejagah
Iran's Ashkan Dejagah reacts after missing a scoring chance.
Javier Mascherano Ashkan Dejagah
Argentina's Javier Mascherano (right) challenges Iran's Ashkan Dejagah for possession.
Lionel Messi and Angel di Maria
Lionel Messi and Angel di Maria cut a frustrated pair as Argentina struggle to score against Iran.
Marcos Rojo and  Reza Ghoochannejhad
Argentina's Marcos Rojo trips Iran's Reza Ghoochannejhad as he attempts to get the ball.
Peter Odemwingie
Nigeria's Peter Odemwingie celebrates scoring his goal against Bosnia at the Pantanal Arena in Cuiaba.
Peter Odemwingie
Nigeria's Peter Odemwingie scores past Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper and club team-mate Asmir Begovic.
Senad Lulic
Nigeria's Peter Odemwingie and Bosnia's Senad Lulic contest possession.
Edin Dzeko
Nigeria's matchwinner Peter Odemwingie is challenged by Bosnia's Senad Lulic.
Edin Dzeko
Bosnia's Edin Dzeko, left, scores a disallowed goal past Nigeria's goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
Vedad Ibisevic
Bosnia's Vedad Ibisevic reacts to a missed chance against Nigeria in their crucial Group F clash.
Marcos Rojo
Marcos Rojo celebrates his match-winning goal, scored off his knee, in Argentina's 3-2 victory over Nigeria.
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Bosnia-Herzegovina players celebrate after their second goal in a 3-1 victory over Iran.
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi collides with Nigeria's Ogenyi Onazi as he controls the ball in Argentina's group match win.
Vincent Enyeama
Nigeria's Vincent Enyeama makes a save against Argentina.
Juwon Oshaniwa and Ricardo Alvarez
Juwon Oshaniwa of Nigeria and Ricardo Alvarez of Argentina lay on the ground after colliding.
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi prepares to take a free-kick as the referee marks the spot.
Ahmed Musa
Nigerian players celebrate Ahmed Musa's goal.
Toni Sunjic and Muhamed Besic
Edin Dzeko of Bosnia-Herzegovina (right) helps team-mate Toni Sunjic after a collision with Muhamed Besic.
Alireza Hughighi
Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Hughighi is consoled by a member of the training staff after losing to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Avdija Vrsajevic
Bosnia-Herzegovina's Avdija Vrsajevic pumps his fist after scoring his country's third goal against Iran.
Ashkan Dejagah
Iran's Ashkan Dejagah is surrounded by Toni Sunjic, Tino Sven Susic and Miralem Pjanic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Reza Ghoochannejhad
Iran's Reza Ghoochannejhad scores his side's only goal past Bosnia-Herzegovina keeper Asmir Begovic.

At the final whistle, France's relieved players danced in front of their fans as dreams of a repeat run to the final - just like in 2006 - moved a step closer.

''We had the whole country behind us. It's one of the proudest moments of my life,'' Pogba said.

''We know we're capable of playing our best match and playing the worst, but today we were good. We stuck together and I'm very happy.''

Mathieu Valbuena
Mathieu Valbuena

France started slowly and finished strongly in the second round match.

''You can always start well but you can also finish well, I've yet to see a team play well over the whole 90 minutes,'' Deschamps said.

''Nigeria dropped off a bit and that allowed us to get on top.''

African champion Nigeria had a goal ruled out for offside in the 19th minute after Emmanuel Emenike poked home Ahmed Musa's cross from the left, but wasted a lot of second-half possession.

''I think it was a good game, the score doesn't tell the game,'' Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said.

After Griezmann came on, Benzema finally came alive in the 70th, opening up the defense after a clever one-two with the France substitute. After Enyeama blocked Benzema's initial shot, his follow-up effort was hacked clear by Victor Moses. Video technology confirmed that the ball had not crossed the line.  

Pogba's tendency to try and hit perfect through-balls worked against his team as he gave the ball away four times inside the first 10 minutes alone. He often seemed in two minds and this only slowed down the French attacks.

France failed to show the attacking flair of previous games, with Giroud skewing a shot wide early on from the edge of the penalty area.

Giroud also appeared to elbow John Obi Mikel in an off-the ball incident, having done the same in last week's 0-0 draw with Ecuador after coming on as a second-half substitute.

Two chances were missed late in the half.

Full-back Mathieu Debuchy found space on the right side of the area in the 40th after collecting a pass from Mathieu Valbuena, but his attempt smacked into the back of a steward. Emenike saw his sharp drive from the edge of the area palmed away by France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, with no Nigeria player near the loose ball.

Center half Raphael Varane added much composure to a nervous-looking France team and hurt himself heading away a cross before it could reach Emenike in the 53rd. With French nerves fraying, midfielder Blaise Matuidi was booked for a heavy challenge on Ogenyi Onazi, who was replaced by Ruben Gabriel in the 59th.

The atmosphere quietened at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, with the pockets of French fans watching silently on as Nigeria started to dominate possession. Deschamps then made a key change, taking Giroud off and bringing on Griezmann, freeing Benzema to play through the middle.

But Nigeria continued to push forward, and Lloris did well to block a shot from Peter Odemwingie and center half Laurent Kocielny made a vital interception to block Musa's dangerous cross from the right.

Then, it was all France as Griezmann boosted the attacks with his mobility and technique, and he almost made it 2-0 with an effort in the 85th that Enyeama tipped over brilliantly. Instead, it fell to Yobo to inadvertently add France's second goal. 

 

AP