France rode goals from Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann to ease past Uruguay 2-0 in a big-ticket FIFA World Cup last-eight stage clash here on Friday.
Varane (40th) glanced past goalkeeper Fernando Muslera after Griezmann floated a free-kick into the box from the right side. In the second half, Griezmann (61st) made the most of a goalkeeping howler from Muslera to double the advantage as France eased into the semi-finals where they will now take on either Brazil and Belgium.
The South American team was dealt a blow before the match when striker Edinson Cavani was left out of the side, having failed to recover from a calf injury. He was replaced in the starting eleven by Girona forward Cristhian Stuani.
France also made one enforced change to the team that beat Argentina 4-3 in the round of 16, with Bayern Munich's Corentin Tolisso replacing suspended Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi.
Uruguay pushed France onto the back foot early and Stuani shot across the face of goal after receiving the ball on the left.
France started to move the ball with more fluency. Striker Olivier Giroud met right-back Benjamin Pavard's cross from the right at the far post by nodding into the path of Kylian Mbappe, but the Paris Saint-Germain forward sent his looping header over the bar.
Despite dictating possession, France rarely looked like scoring as Giroud, Griezmann and Mbappe struggled to find pockets of space.
France finally broke Uruguay's resistance in the 40th minute after Rodrigo Bentancur hacked down Tolisso. The Juventus midfielder was shown a yellow card for the offense, meaning he will be unavailable in the semi-finals, should Uruguay progress. Griezmann's delivery from the resultant set piece was inch-perfect and Varane rose highest to head the ball into the bottom left corner.
The goal prompted Uruguay to immediately spring to life. The Celeste had their best scoring chance of the half just moments before the interval when Martin Caceres' header forced a superb diving save from goalkeeper Hugo Lorris following Torreira's free-kick. The rebound fell for Diego Godin who fired his shot wide of the left post.
After the break, Uruguay pushed for the equaliser but things got worse on 62 minutes as Griezmann made it 2-0 for France. Muslera failed to parry Griezmann's attempt from range and the ball squirmed through his grasp and over the line.
Stung by the second goal, Uruguay players lost cool when Mbappe fell to the ground after a brief touch from Cristian Rodriguez.
Godin and Paul Pogba then got tangled in the scuffle before the situation was diffused with yellow cards for both Rodriguez and Mbappe.
Afterwards, France continued to keep the possession of the ball, while Uruguay failed to find that final which could give them their first goal. But the reducer dind't arrive as the French outfit controlled the game in the middle by putting two holding midfielders, Steven N'zonzi replacing Tolisso. - IANS