EKATERINBURG: France became the third team to secure their place in the knockout stages of the 2018 World Cup after defeating Peru 1-0 in the finals’ eastern outpost of Ekaterinburg.

Didier Deschamps’s men followed hosts Russia and Uruguay into the last 16 while condemning the South Americans to become the fourth first-round failures after Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

Les Bleus, despite the nature scoreline, were better balanced than in their opening Group C victory over Australia thanks to the inclusion from the start of Olivier Giroud. His presence up front gave Antoine Griezmann the freedom to move across attack and link attack more effectively with midfield.

Paul Pogba had a consistently commanding performance in midfield and Kylian Mbappe was not only a perpetual danger but proved the point with the winning goal. The Paris Saint-Germain forward, still only 19, thus became the youngest player ever to score for France in not only World Cup finals history but in any major tournament.

Peru, in the finals for the first time for 40 years, made a lively start and veteran captain Paolo Guerrero – playing while pending a dope ban appeal – could have opened the scoring. Instead, when he broke through on the left, he was foiled by the rapid advance of French goalkeeper-captain Hugo Lloris.

This proved a decisive miss because four minutes later Mbappe struck the only goal after a shot from Giroud was deflected into his path off defender Alberto Rodriguez.

France might even have claimed a two-goal lead at the interval but left-back Lucas Hernandez allowed a double chance to go to waste three minutes before the break.

Peru went close early in the second half when a 25metre drive from Pedro Aquino clipped the outside of Lloris’s right-hand post. In the closing substitute Jefferson Farfan clipped a shot into the side net while French substitute Ousmane Dembele shot wastefully wide moments after substituting for Mbappe.

Peru, for all their increasingly desperate efforts, proved unable to take advantage.