With a host of English-based talent turning out for France on Wednesday evening as well as some big names in the day's earlier Group F matches, Goal reviews their displaysWith the group stages at their climax, Groups E and F were concluded on Wednesday with a host of Premier League players in action for their respective nations.
Argentina were the highest-profile team taking the field and they saw off Nigeria to progress with maximum points, Lionel Messi scoring twice with Manchester City's Pablo Zabaleta in the side, while Bosnia-Herzegovina got a consolatory victory against Iran with Edin Dzeko in their line-up.
There was a whole host of Premier League talent on show in France's 0-0 draw with Ecuador, meanwhile, and a farewell to the tournament for Honduras and their two English-based stars. Goal runs down the good and the bad of Wednesday's action...
|JOHN OBI MIKEL
Nigeria put up a good fight despite being defeated by Argentina in their Group F closer and made it through to the second round anyway but John Obi Mikel was one of their least impressive performers in Porto Alegre.
When tasked with pushing forward with a little more creative license, the Chelsea star was kept quiet by Alejandro Sabella's men and could not put a lid on the likes of Lionel Messi in an average defensive display. Perhaps wary of incurring a suspension after having been booked earlier in the tournament, he was somewhat timid.
It was a mixed afternoon for Pablo Zabaleta. Both of Nigeria's goals came down their left flank through pacey winger Ahmed Musa, with the Manchester City man unable to stop the two fine goals.
He recovered, however, to deny the 21-year-old a hat-trick with a vital tackle late in the game, having otherwise made himself useful in both defence and attack.
Sergio Aguero's third season at Manchester City was perhaps his best so far, his goals helping to fire Manuel Pellegrini's side to a second Premier League title in three years. Aguero's final tally of 28 goals would no doubt have been far greater, however, had he not succumbed to a series of injuries which restricted him to just 36 appearances in all competitions.
After two games without a goal at the World Cup, Aguero again hobbled off during his side's entertaining victory over Nigeria, and may struggle to retain his place, let alone fitness, after Ezequiel Lavezzi impressed as his replacement.
Like his fellow Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko has endured a miserable World Cup but was at least able to end his tournament on a high. The former Werder Bremen man was furious after he saw a goal wrongly disallowed against Nigeria, a decision which contributed to his side's elimination, but there was no disputing the crisp, left-footed shot from 25 yards which helped set Bosnia on their way to victory against Iran.
It was a poor game for the Fulham man. Iran needed a result to keep alive their chances of progressing to the last 16 but Ashkan Dejagah was unable to provide any thrust towards such a goal, often caught in possession and too frequently being flagged for offside in an off-colour performance.
The Tottenham goalkeeper will have been disappointed to have conceded his first goals of the competition against Switzerland, two meaningless consolation efforts in a 5-2 win, but was rarely troubled here. He had to be alert to keep out an Enner Valencia header late in the first half but otherwise enjoyed the most comfortable of evenings.
The new Manchester City recruit has surprisingly been forced to play the role of understudy to Newcastle's Mathieu Debuchy so far but proved a more than able deputy here. Sagna was rarely tested by Ecuador's powerful forwards and offered a threat going forward. One trademark cross narrowly evaded the unmarked Karim Benzema in the first half and another early in the second was turned onto the post by Alexander Dominguez following Antoinne Griezmann's instinctive effort.
|MAMADOU SAKHO & LAURENT KOSCIELNY
The powerful Liverpool defender has become a mainstay of France's defence under Didier Deschamps despite some unconvincing displays for his club side. Sakho coped manfully with the threat of Enner Valencia but was perhaps lucky to avoid a red card following an elbow on Oswaldo Minda.
Sakho's involvement in the game did come to an end on the hour mark when he appeared to aggravate a thigh injury that could threaten his participation in Les Bleus' last-16 tie against Nigeria.
In Laurent Koscielny, however, France would appear to have the perfect ready-made replacement should Sakho fail to recover. The Arsenal man coasted through this match, sweeping up behind Sakho and looking typically composed in possession.
Making his first international start after being called up late after an injury to Clement Grenier, the Southampton midfielder looked right at home at the Maracana. Getting into the game early on with some strong tackles, the 24-year-old settled into the game and completed 93 per cent of his passes over the 90 minutes as the deepest of Deschamps's midfield trio.
|MOUSSA SISSOKO & OLIVIER GIROUD
Sissoko began the match on the right flank but switched to and from the left at times to make room for the flightier Antoine Griezmann. It was an unspectacular performance from the Newcastle star, who lacked a little subtlety when trying to break down the Ecuador defence and made some awkward touches, but he was hard-working at both ends and made some important contributions when tracking back.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud was summoned midway through the second half with Les Bleus struggling to carve their way through the back line but, despite some smart touches, was unable to make the difference.
A disappointing tournament all round for Ecuador's key man, in which he has been eclipsed by his namesake, Enner Valencia, was ended even earlier than his team's when he was sent off not far into the second half against France.
Shown the red card for a clumsy challenge on French left-back Lucas Digne, the Manchester United winger could not have a great many complaints as he and his side were eliminated from the World Cup.
|WILSON PALACIOS & MAYNOR FIGUEROA
It was a fairly ignominious World Cup exit for Honduras as, despite attempts to play some attacking football, they were eclipsed in quality by Switzerland. Stoke City's Wilson Palacios set the tone by giving the ball away in the opening minutes and generally did not improve from there, though Maynor Figueroa made some strong tackles despite Xherdan Shaqiri's fine hat-trick carrying the day.