France advanced through to the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup as they beat Nigeria 2-0 on Monday in the round of 16.
They will face either Germany or Algeria in the last eight with Joachim Low's side the favourites to make it through against the African side.
Juventus' Paul Pogba was a key part of Didier Deschamps' side as France initially laboured against a spirited Nigeria side.
The first half was very well balanced as Pogba had the best chance from either team, volleying well after a slick France move only to be denied by a fantastic save, per ITV Football:
SAVE! Super play from Pogba, a super ball back to him by Valbuena, super volley, super save by Enyeama. In summary: super stuff.— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 30, 2014
Squawka Football provided a terrific shot of Nigerian keeper Victor Enyeama's effort to keep out the 21-year-old's venomous shot:
The sides went in at half-time with the Evening Standard's James Olley commenting on Pogba's influence during the first period:
However, ESPN's Dermot Corrigan noted a drop in his performance as the second half went on:
Not seen much of Pogba this half.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) June 30, 2014
But as France started to take more of a grip on the game, creating more and more chances, it was Pogba who finally made the decisive breakthrough to make it 1-0, per the Daily Telegraph's Paul Hayward:
Relentless French pressure brings a headed goal for Pogba after Nigeria keeper flaps. He'd been excellent until then. 1-0 France 78mins.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) June 30, 2014
NBC Sports' Arlo White passed on BBC commentator Simon Brotherton's statistic concerning the significance of Pogba's goal:
As per @SimonBrotherton on the BBC, Paul Pogba's goal was the 146th of this World Cup, already more than the whole of South Africa 2010.— Arlo White (@arlowhite) June 30, 2014
France wrapped the game up as Nigeria's Joseph Yobo put the ball into his own net to see Les Bleus through to the last eight of the Brazil tournament.
Squawka reported Pogba's impressive contribution during the game, and he will no doubt be a key player for France if they are to progress further:
Karim Benzema started the match out of position on the left wing, having scored three goals in the tournament so far. Former Manchester United defender and BBC pundit Rio Ferdinand questioned the tactic:
Benzema on the left....does he look happy there??! Anytime France have looked dangerous Valbuena has been involved— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) June 30, 2014
Indeed, Opta hinted at the lack of link-up play between Benzema and front man Olivier Giroud, and Hayward noted the change in the Real Madrid star's position as the Arsenal man was substituted in the second half:
1 - There was only one pass made between Giroud and Benzema in the first hallf. Breakdown.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 30, 2014
Giroud not worth his place today and was withdrawn by France after an hour. Benzema can now play through the middle, with Griezmann left— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) June 30, 2014
The change had an influence almost immediately, and Benzema had an attempt eventually cleared off the line, per AFP's Tom Williams:
Moses saves! Benzema plays one-two with Griezmann and squeezes shot beneath Enyeama, but Victor Moses hooks it clear from close to the line.— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) June 30, 2014
The Sun-Herald's Craig Foster put the French victory down to the Giroud switch, which allowed Benzema more freedom:
Deschamps' decision to take Giroud off won the game. Allowed Benzema freedom, came into game, + Griezmann very good #SBSWorldCup— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) June 30, 2014
France eventually convinced against Nigeria, but they struggled in the first half and will need to continue to improve if they are to go far in the tournament.
However, in Pogba and Benzema, they have two of the tournament's top players, and they should prove a match for anyone they meet, most likely to be Germany next up.