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France finish top ahead of Denmark after World Cup stalemate

Moscow, Tuesday @PeopleSports11

France secured first place ahead of Denmark in Group C on Tuesday following a 0-0 draw in Moscow that could set up a heavyweight World Cup clash with Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the last 16.

Didier Deschamps’ side dominated possession but struggled to create any clear-cut chances against a determined Denmark, who will likely meet Croatia for a place in the quarter-finals.

France have scored just three times in three games in Russia, including a penalty and an own goal, and it was another disjointed display from one of the title favourites.

Deschamps rested captain Hugo Lloris and Paul Pogba, with the Manchester United midfielder a booking away from suspension, while Kylian Mbappe was also left out among six changes.

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, 33, made his first appearance at a major tournament, having been an unused substitute at the last three European Championships and the 2010 World Cup.

After much debate about the video assistant referee (VAR) following further controversy on Monday, it was inevitable any penalty area tussles would prompt strong appeals at the Luzhniki Stadium.

There have already been 20 penalties given at this World Cup, a tournament record before the group stage has even concluded.

Denmark’s Martin Braithwaite laid an early claim after going down under pressure from Presnel Kimpembe, although there appeared minimal contact at best.

Meanwhile, Australia’s World Cup ended with a whimper as goals from Andre Carrillo and Paolo Guerrero gave Peru a 2-0 victory in the teams’ group finale also on Tuesday.

The Socceroos needed a win to stand any chance of reaching the last 16 for the first time since 2006, but they were undone by Carrillo’s 18th-minute strike and Guerrero’s goal early in the second half at the Fisht Stadium. They go home without a win, joining Peru in being eliminated in Group C. However, for the South Americans there was only elation at ending their long wait for a victory in the competition.               -AFP

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