By RYAN TOLMICH
Despite being the first team to fluster France’s relentless attack, it was not enough from Ecuador.
The two sides played to a scoreless draw Wednesday, dooming 10-man Ecuador to a group stage exit as a result of Switzerland’s victory over Honduras. With their elimination, Ecuador become the first South American side to miss out on advancing to the tournament’s knockout stages.
The Ecuador defense stood valiantly against the heralded French attack, who had scored eight times in their opening two contests. France’s Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema were threats throughout the afternoon, combining for 13 shots, but much of the praise will be heaped upon Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Domínguez, who made nine saves to earn a clean sheet.
However, the Ecuadorians offensive capabilities were severely limited starting in the 50th minute, when captain Antonio Valencia was issued a red card for stomping on French defender Lucas Digne. La Tri failed to muster much of attack, despite needing goals to advance, as France limited Ecuador to a mere 31 percent possession and two shots on target.
With the draw, France holds onto their position atop group E, finishing with seven points from their three games. Up next for the French will be Nigeria, who fell to Argentina 3-2 earlier in the day.