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France in World Cup semi-final after beating Uruguay

media France's Raphaël Varane after scoring a goal against Uruguay REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

France advanced to the semi-final of the World Cup last night following a 2-0 victory over Uruguay. Raphaël Varane broke the deadlock after 40 minutes with a slick glancing header.

Within minutes of the opener, France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris pulled off a marvellous one-handed save from a Martin Cacares header to keep his side’s nose in front at the pause.

Antoine Griezmann sealed the victory on the hour mark courtesy of a blunder from the Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

Fed the ball 25 metres out on the left, Griezmann looked up and thrashed it goalwards. Muslera appeared to have it covered but parried it up and over his head into his net.

Without the injured Edinson Cavani and a toothless Luis Suarez, Uruguay did not muster any real fightback.

France will play Belgium in the last four after they outwitted Brazil 2-1 in Kazan.

2-0 to Europe

A Fernandinho own goal and a strike from Kevin de Bruyne sent Roberto Martinez’s men into the break with the advantage. Renato Augusto pulled one back from Brazil 15 minutes from time but the Belgians held on to make it 2-0 to Europe over South American teams on the night.

After France had claimed the Uruguayan scalp, Suarez refused to blame Cavani’s absence for the defeat.

“Edinson is important to the team because he is a great player. But Cristhian Stuani and Maxi Gomez came in and gave everything they had,” he said.

"I am happy with the effort of the team and the way we battled as a team. To be among the best eight teams in the world isn’t an easy thing.”

France coach Didier Deschamps, who skippered France to the 1998 World Cup crown, said his side had raised its level again after the 4-3 last 16 victory over Argentina.

"I have a good team that still has plenty of room for improvement," he said. "You can see our lack of experience sometimes. But we have so many qualities, too.

"We played well but it was not the perfect match. There are so many things that we can improve on."

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