From Mumini Alao in Brasilia:
France coach Didier Deschamps was understandably a relieved man after his France side defeated Nigeria 2-0 qualify for the quarter-finals.
Deschamps hailed the qualities of the African side but added that his team finished strongly in the game.
“A game is 90 minutes. We had an opponent that played with a lot of physicality and athleticism,” Deschamps noted. “They controlled the beginning but We had a strong final 15 minutes and we scored two goals.
“The four forwards of Nigeria were very fast and very dangerous. But we were really never in danger of conceding any goals except the one that was disallowed.
“Towards the end, Nigeria’s strikers were not tracking back again. I think they were more tired than us so I introduced a player to play short passes in the open areas and it worked. These are do-or-die matches and I’m happy we came through.”
Deschamps, a World Cup winner with France in 1998 reserved special words for Man of the Match, Paul Pogba.
“It’s good for Paul (Pogba) to be man of the match. He is a young player and he has a lot of potential, but I’m more concerned about the team performance which was good.
“On refereeing, sometimes the decisions favour you, and sometimes they don’t favour you. We won today, so what can I complain about. I think the Nigerian goal was offside, but again, it was the decision of the referee.
“I think Brazilians like us, but it depends on who we play. Maybe because we played against an African team, so they gave them more support. But we also had about 5,000 fans in the stadium, so it was OK.
“I’m happy with our achievement of reaching the Round of 16. Now we go and prepare for our opponents in the next match,” the French coach concluded.