Denmark 0 France 0
Australia 0 Peru 2
MOSCOW • The goals finally dried up at this thrilling World Cup yesterday when a flat France and dull Denmark played out a mutually beneficial 0-0 draw at the Luzhniki Stadium which allowed the French to finish top of Group C and the Danes to qualify in second spot.
Thirty-six games in Russia had failed to result in a goal-less stalemate, but neither France nor Denmark ever looked like scoring in a tedious affair.
France were already assured qualification but wanted to go through in top spot to avoid a likely last-16 clash with in-form Croatia. Denmark could have been denied qualification only if they lost to France and Australia beat Peru in the match being simultaneously played in Sochi.
But with the Peruvians leading 2-0 before the hour in that game, the Moscow clash settled down to little more than a canter.
While not in the same category as the infamous 1982 "Nichtangriffspakt von Gijon" - the non-aggression pact of Gijon - when West Germany and Austria both settled for a 1-0 German win which put them both through, neither side at the Luzhniki looked to be going all out.
"It was our objective to ensure we were first out of the group... The objective was achieved," France coach Didier Deschamps said after his side contributed in snapping the record of games without a 0-0 result in Russia. The previous mark was 26, set at the 1954 edition. "It was very difficult. Teams are very well prepared, and it's not easy against such a packed defence."
The writing had been on the wall early in the capital, with the play dominated by industry rather than any kind of inspiration. The Danes built a pattern of firing balls long before quickly tracking back, while the French kept possession well but struggled throughout with their final ball.
GOOD TO GET OUT ALIVE
It was one of the toughest groups I believe. The team that only got three points, Peru, perhaps played the best in our group.
AGE HAREIDE, Denmark coach, assessing the group, while offering scant consolation to the eliminated Peruvians.
Games played before the first goal-less draw at this World Cup.
Antoine Griezmann, not among the six players rested by Deschamps for this match, looked listless as he sought to probe the Danish defence for a way through.
At times it seemed as though he was on a different wavelength to his team-mates, who failed to spot his runs or find the spaces Griezmann played into.
It took more than half an hour before there was any real chance, and then Ousmane Dembele pushed his right foot shot wide of both the goal and Kasper Schmeichel's overly elaborate dive.
Deschamps brought Benjamin Mendy on for Lucas Hernandez just after half-time, but to little avail as the French continually misfired.
Jeers and whistles swirled around the frustrated crowd, as both sides failed time after time to create any real scoring opportunities - the Danes continuing to defend deep and the French rarely breaking out of a trot.
Few teams will fear either side on the back of this result but the performances are expected to elevate when the reality of sudden-death forces their hands.
"First in the group. The real competition starts now," tweeted France defender Raphael Varane.
For Peru and Australia, they have reached the end of their road, with the Latin Americans at least bowing out on a high.
A stunning Andre Carrillo volley gave Peru their first World Cup goal in 36 years before captain Paolo Guerrero grabbed a second to condemn Australia to a 2-0 defeat.
Guerrero set up Carrillo's 18th-minute goal from the edge of the box with a cross, then scored from a deflection five minutes after the interval to send Peru's red-and-white army of fans into ecstasy at the Fisht Stadium.