France edged past Ecuador 1-0 to book a quarter-final meeting with Nigeria and send the South Americans packing. A solitary second-half strike from Antoine Griezmann was the vital difference on a night where each side had several chances.
Ecuador began the better side, however, nearly stunning the European champions early. A superb first-half performance from goalkeeper Jonathan Ligali spared the French an early exit at these finals, though, and denied the South Americans of their chances.
Marlon De Jesus had the South American's first chance, but in point-blank range headed an Edder Fuertes’ service over the crossbar. Ecuador were searching to score early and on ten minutes Brayan De La Torre watched his chance hit the post.
At the other end, Antoine Griezmann struck a bending free-kick towards John Jaramillo’s far post, but the goalkeeper pulled off a fine save, tipping the ball out for a corner. On 22 minutes, Griezmann looked to become provider, sending in a low cross to Clement Grenier, who sent his shot sailing over the crossbar.
De Jesus had another opportunity go begging after Edson Montano had crossed into the area from the left side. And, it was the No9 again who missed a crucial chance for the Ecuadorians before the half-time whistle. The forward got to the end of a long pass, but rather than shoot at first opportunity, attempted to dribble past Ligali, who promptly picked the ball up off his foot.
The match appeared to be headed for extra time after the restart, with neither side able to find a breakthrough. On 53 minutes Alexandre Lacazette received the ball from Griezmann, who had done well to beat his defender, but the No19 missed from close-range.
Marcos Caicedo soon broke free down the right side and crossed into Edson Montano awaiting in the area, but the forward ballooned his effort over the crossbar. Griezmann and Grenier then had successive chances go wayward, before Ecuador substitute Juan Cazares fired a shot narrowly over the woodwork.
The No15 provided a second-half spark for the South Americans, but after De Jesus missed his cross by just centimetres, France snatched the lead. On 75 minutes, Griezmann shot from close-range in the area, only to see Jaramillo block the chance. To his fortune, though, the deflection bounced right back and the No11 coolly tapped home to send his side into the last eight.