Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann scored as France advanced to a FIFA World Cup 2018 semi-final against either Belgium or Brazil after easing past Uruguay on Friday.
Following an opening passage high on energy but bereft of quality, Varane glanced home a Griezmann free-kick to open the scoring before the Atletico Madrid man doubled France’s advantage just after the hour mark in a moment to forget for Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
In terms of excitement, this quarter-final tie did not come close to Les Bleus' win over Argentina in the last 16 but will still be remembered for the contrasting fates of the two goalkeepers, with Hugo Lloris producing a contender for save of the tournament while his opposite number made a mistake that was even more memorable.
Raphael Varane headed France into a first-half lead from a free-kick that came straight off the training field, with Antoine Griezmann checking his run before delivering the perfect cross for the Real Madrid defender to glance home.
Uruguay, with injured striker Edinson Cavani failing to even make the bench, almost struck back immediately from a free-kick of their own, but Lloris produced a brilliant diving stop to deny Martin Caceres, before Diego Godin blasted the rebound over.
The second half started with France continuing to control possession, but they were gifted the goal that made certain of their victory.
There seemed little danger when Griezmann let fly from the edge of the area but Muslera misjudged the flight of the ball, flapped at the shot, and saw it loop slowly over the line.
Uruguay, roared on by their huge travelling support, threw bodies forward in the closing stages but could not seriously trouble Lloris again.
Their run of four successive victories is over, as well as their hopes of reaching the final in Moscow on 15 July.
It is France who march on, and they will face neighbours Belgium in the semi-finals in St Petersburg on Tuesday.
France manager Didier Deschamps has been criticised back home for his conservative tactics, but this time he got his approach exactly right.
This was an efficient, rather than a spectacular, display but it was exactly what was needed against stubborn South American opposition.
There were no more fireworks from Kylian Mbappe, for example, although he did waste a glorious chance to open the scoring when he badly mistimed a header.
Instead, France took control of the game in midfield, found a way to hurt Uruguay from the right flank and then struck their first decisive blow from Griezmann's well-worked set-piece.
France's second goal gave them breathing space, and added gloss to the scoreline, but they rarely looked troubled in any case and with defensive resilience as well as attacking flair, they will make formidable opponents to whoever they face next.
Uruguay's hopes of reaching the last four of the World Cup for the first time since 2010 were always going to be hit by Cavani's enforced absence through a calf injury.
While their famed defensive organisation was again evident in Nizhny Novgorod, ultimately they paid the price for having a blunted attack.
Their failure to score for the first time in this tournament was not for the want of trying, however, with eight of their outfield players having attempts at goal.
Noticeably, Luis Suarez was not among them, and although he charged around to try to make things happen for his side in the final third, inspiration eluded him, as it did his team-mates.
Other than Caceres' header, and Godin's wild miss with the follow-up, Uruguay were largely kept at arm's length, and not even the noisy support they received from the stands could change the feeling they were simply outclassed.
Highlights of Uruguay vs France, FIFA World Cup 2018 quarterfinal
9:25 PM IST: That’s it from our side, thank you so much for joining us! Do join us again for more World Cup coverage.
9:23 PM IST: Full time and France have beaten Uruguay 2-0 to qualify for the semi-finals.
9:18 PM IST: 5 mins added time.
9:10 PM IST: The clock is winding down and the French players look relaxed too. They know the onus is on Uruguay now.
9:00 PM IST: The Uruguayan fans are looking dejected. France fans, meanwhile, are singing and dancing in jubilation.
8:55 PM IST: The game is getting ugly here but as long as the scoreline remains unaffected then France won’t mind.
8:50 PM IST: GOAAAAL! France lead 2-0 thanks to some dreadful goalkeeping. Antoine Griezmann with the goal and this game looks over.
8:46 PM IST: Uruguay have grown into the game as the half has progressed. They would like to get an equaliser soon.
8:42 PM IST: Uruguay are getting some passes together now but France are holding steady. Ngolo Kante has been especially impressive in midfield for France.
8:38 PM IST: Uruguay are once again pinned back by an attack minded French side. If Les Bleus get a second it will be game over.
8: 33 PM IST: The second half is underway! Can Uruguay find an equaliser soon?
8:18 PM IST: France lead Uruguay 1-0 at half-time with Raphael Varane’s header in the 40th minute the difference between the two sides.
8:15 PM IST: 2 minutes have been added on.
8:13 PM IST: WHAT A SAVE! Lloris stops a certain equaliser going in from a header with an amazing one handed stop.
8:10 PM IST: GOAL! Varane heads in from a Griezmann free-kick to give France the lead.
8:06 PM IST: 10 mins left in the first half and the scoreline remains unaffected.
8:03 PM IST: Here’s a fact that will not impress France fans: they have won just one of their past 8 encounters vs. Uruguay! France missed a good chance when the ball fell to Mbappe in the penalty area but his control is off.
8:00 PM IST: No matter what happens to Uruguay today, Diego Godin will have made history: he has now captained Uruguay more times (8) at the World Cup than any other player in their history.
7:57 PM IST: France are now slowly but surely finding their groove. Uruguay are packed into their own penalty area.
7:53 PM IST: Given that Uruguay are a team that rely on defensive work rate, they would prefer if the game remains goalless till some point. France need a goal quickly.
7:48 PM IST: The game has settled into a bit of a slow rhythm at this point. Neither side is willing to take an early risk in what is a crucial game.
7:45 PM IST: Mbappe gets a chance from a header but he is unable to make the most of it and heads it well over the bar.
7:42 PM IST: France win a free-kick in a good position but Antoine Griezmann’s delivery isn’t in a dangerous area and it goes out for a goal-kick.
7:38 PM IST: Uruguay are happy to give the bilk of the possession to France, something the latter won’t mind. But they have yet to carve out a solid chance.
7:34 PM IST: France start the game on the front foot, threading passes together. But Uruguay get a good chance on the counter that they can’t make the most off, after causing some havoc in the French penalty area.
7:30 PM IST: The referee blows his whistle and we are underway!
7:25 PM IST: Hello and welcome to live coverage of the first quarter-final!
The mouth-watering last-eight tie is likely to be decided by a battle between Uruguay’s stifling backline and the speed of Mbappe, 19.
Led by captain Diego Godin, and including Jose Gimenez, Martin Caceres and Diego Laxalt, along with goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, Uruguay’s defence have the joint-best record at the World Cup.