Denmark through to World Cup knockouts after tedious France stalemate

The first goalless draw of Russian Federation 2018 was played out in Nizhny Novgorod on Tuesday afternoon, but both teams were happy with the outcome as France progressed as Group C winners and the Danes joined them in the last 16.

Mandanda looked uncertain when Eriksen played a 55th-minute free kick into his penalty area but, after losing the ball, he then gathered it with Denmark forwards closing in.

Denmark can finish atop Group C with a win over France and can secure passage to the Round of 16 with a draw.

Denmark would be eliminated should they lose and Australia beat Peru.

After topping Group C thanks to a boring draw, France are on track to face Argentina in the first knockout round if Lionel Messi can inspire his side to victory against Nigeria, who occupy second spot in Group D. "We would have been stupid to open a lot of space for the French team".

All previous 36 games of the tournament had seen goals but the series ended in a stale affair at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium in which neither side took major risks as the result suited them just fine.

Scoring hasn't been easy for Australia at World Cups recently, with its last three goals in the tournament coming from penalty kicks, including two from captain Mile Jedinak in Russian Federation. The first 0-0 of the 2018 tournament, though, had been on the cards from an early stage. The 33-year-old made his first and only save in the 54th minute, spilling Christian Eriksen's free-kick before pouncing on the loose ball.

Starting line-ups France (4-2-3-1): Steve Mandanda; Djibril Sidibe, Raphael Varane (capt), Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez; N'Golo Kante, Steven Nzonzi; Thomas Lemar, Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann; Olivier Giroud.

Cornelius was replaced by Kasper Dolberg before, with the final 10 minutes approaching, France took off Dembele and brought on Kylian Mbappe.

Deschamps was satisfied with the draw as it meant top spot in Group C, but the French tactician admitted to TF1 that his team's momentum suffered as he made six changes to get more squad members a chance to play.

The situation was not helped by Group C's other match, where the men from down under were down after 18 minutes. That could still be any of Croatia, Nigeria, Iceland or Argentina before their final games later on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT). We were playing hard to get the result we needed.

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