Cyprus Mail
Brazil 2014 World Cup

Toothless France top group as 10-man Ecuador go out

Antonio Valencia of Ecuador leaves the pitch after receiving a red card

A second-string France side clinched top spot in World Cup Group E while Ecuador, who had captain Antonio Valencia harshly sent off, were eliminated after a sprightly 0-0 draw at the Maracana stadium on Wednesday.

Switzerland, who beat Honduras 3-0 to finish runners-up, will play Argentina in the last 16 while the French will face Nigeria.

Ecuador, who had to play most of the second half with 10 men after Valencia’s dismissal in the 50th minute, became the only one of the six South American sides not to progress.

France topped the group with seven points while Switzerland finished on six, Ecuador ended with four and Honduras none.

With little pressure on France, who were all but assured of a place in the second round, coach Didier Deschamps made six changes to his starting lineup.

It was not a performance that will have excited France’s fans but Deschamps was delighted to reach the knockout stage.

“Nothing will spoil our satisfaction tonight. We were there to qualify for the last 16 and we finished top of the group. We were up against a team that was strong in defence even with 10 men,” he said.

Ecuador knew they needed a victory to have any hope of progressing but they struggled to create many chances in the first half and then had to attack with a numerical disadvantage.

Ecuador coach Reinaldo Ruedo said Antonio Valencia’s sending off had cost his team dearly.

“It was a pity all that happened. I am very respectful o

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