John Mikel Obi, Victor Moses and Kenneth Omeruo are the first Chelsea players to exit in the knockout stage of the World Cup. Their tie in Brasilia was settled by two late goals scored by France.
Nigeria for long periods of the Round of 16 encounter caused as many problems for their previously prolific opponents as Didier Drogba’s side did for the African champions, however France took control as the second half progressed and their pressure eventually told.
Moses started for the first time since the group stage opener, coming in to the Nigeria attack in place of broken-arm-victim Michel Babatunde. Mikel had one of his most influential games of this World Cup and Omeruo made some important interventions at the back but all to no avail.
Nigeria had the ball in the net on 18 minutes, Emmanuel Emenike poking an Ahmed Musa cross over the line but from a marginally offside run.
Vincent Enyeama continued what had been a good World Cup so far for him when he kept out a volley from Paul Pogba. The Nigeria keeper’s fortunes would later take a turn for the worse. Mathieu Debuchy was wasteful with a shot shortly before half-time as the French broke rapidly.
But the even nature of the contest was emphasised before the interval when Hugo Lloris could only beat out a shot from Emenike but Moses handballed as he tried to control the rebound. A good Mikel pass opened up the shooting chance.
Not for the first time in this tournament Nigeria lost a player to injury, Ogenyi Onazi, whose shot ironically broke Babatunde’s arm in the previous game, carried off after a challenge by Blaise Matuidi.
On 63 minutes, Peter Odemwingie in limited space cracked a shot from outside the area that tested Lloris to the full.
Shortly after France produced the best move of the game, ending with a Benzema shot from close range that Enyeama still managed to half-block, with Moses unexpectedly the man back far enough to clear from the line.
Next up to clear from in front of goal was Mikel from Benezma and fortune favoured Nigeria when Cabaye’s follow-up shot cannoned off the crossbar.
This was France’s purple patch, Enyeama soon touching Benzema’s header over but the keeper didn’t do nearly so well from the follow-up corner, leaving his line unguarded as Pogba headed in to break the deadlock with 79 minutes played.
Enyeama did keep out a shot from lively substitute Antoine Griezmann and Moses had an effort deflected wide, his final contribution before his substitution moments before Joseph Yobo deflected a low ball in for a stoppage-time own goal to end the contest.