One week and two games were all it took for Peru’s World Cup hopes to end as La Blanquirroja was eliminated from getting to the Round of 16 with its 1-0 loss Thursday to France.
Even with one game remaining against Australia, Peru was in a must-win scenario against Les Bleus after a disappointing loss to Denmark to start off its first World Cup since 1982. France’s talent advantage was on clear display, however, as its heralded attack applied consistent pressure to Peru and a 34th-minute goal from wunderkind Kylian Mbappe made the difference.
After coming off the bench in the last game, captain Paolo Guerrero got his first ever start in a World Cup Thursday and Pedro Aquino started in place of the injured Renato Tapia.
France’s attack got going early and went on a ballistic pace starting in the 10th minute when a loose ball in Peru’s backfield nearly gave Antoine Griezmann a chance at goal. For the next five minutes, Peru’s defenders had to hang on for life as the offensive wave came battering down on them. In the 14th minute, France’s Raphael Varane was just wide on a header off a beautiful corner kick from Griezmann. The French forward who plays his club ball for Atlético Madrid came right back and nearly scored from the middle of the box but keeper Pedro Gallese got down to deflect the try.
After finding some balance, Peru came back attacking on the left side and found Guerrero, who nearly scored after getting past France’s star defender Samuel Umiti. Keeper Hugo Lloris came up big for Les Bleus, though, to fend off what would be one of Peru’s only realistic chances on the day.
In the 33rd, France came right back with Mbappe, who twisted himself in the air to nearly punch in the game’s first goal. He would get it less than a minute later as a deflected shot from Olivier Giroud found the 19-year-old forward’s feet and he was able to tap it in.
The well-orchestrated French attack almost came back with a second goal before the half when Mbappe led the break and played a great ball back to Griezmann in the middle of the field. Griezmann’s touch was just a bit too strong, however, as his ball looking for Giroud was found first by Gallese.
Minutes later, Gallese was able to stick his hands over his head to block a shot from Lucas Hernández that momentarily stopped the bleeding.
After the half, Jefferson Farfán came on for Yoshimar Yotún and Anderson Santamaría for Alberto Rodríguez as coach Ricardo Gareca looked for some needed offensive impulse.
In the opening minutes of the second period, a curling shot from Aquino nearly snuck in the top left corner but it hit the post and kept Peru scoreless.
Later in the half, a cross from André Carrillo found an outstretched Farfán, who was too near the goal line to poke it in. Peru would not get close again as a last-hope free kick from Guerrero was easily brought in by Lloris in the 88th minute.
Peru will return to the pitch Tuesday to play Australia in its final game of Group C and of the World Cup as it is mathematically eliminated following two losses.