World Cup: Keshi goes nuclear at referee Geiger as France leave it late

Frank Dalleres
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NIGERIA coach Stephen Keshi last night risked disciplinary action by blaming his team’s World Cup elimination on “biased” refereeing from American official Mark Geiger.

France needed two late goals – from midfielder Paul Pogba and an own goal by Super Eagles defender Joseph Yobo – to see off the African champions in Brasilia and reach the quarter-finals. But Keshi, who resigned after the game, was aggrieved that a first-half effort by Emmanuel Emenike had been ruled out for a fractional offside, and that France’s Blaise Matuidi escaped with a booking for a crunching challenge that ended midfielder Ogenyi Onazi’s participation.

“I am not happy with the officiating because Onazi, on two occasions, he had a very bad tackle and nothing was done by the referee,” he said.

“I think the referee was biased. This is the first time I will speak about the referee in my life as a coach but it wasn’t good.

“If you look at the goal we scored, I don’t think there was any infringement. The referee is a human being, bound to make some mistakes, but a lot of mistakes is questionable.”

France coach Didier Deschamps attempted to keep a lid on expectations when asked whether a quarter-final place represented a successful tournament.

“I would say it’s not a failure. When you look at the recent past of the team, it’s not insignificant,” he said.

“I’m not saying we’re going to win the World Cup but I’m very proud.”

A stinging volley from former Manchester United starlet Pogba and Emenike’s disallowed goal were the only highlights of the first half, but France, and the contest, came alive with a second-half change.

Winger Antoine Griezmann’s introduction, for listless Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, revived France, who soon saw two Karim Benzema efforts cleared off the line and Yohan Cabaye rattled the bar.

But no sooner had Vincent Enyeama tipped a Benzema header over than the Nigeria goalkeeper flapped at a corner, allowing Pogba to plant a header into the unguarded net.

The second came in injury-time when Yobo, trying to prevent Griezmann reaching a Mathieu Valbuena cross, diverted past Enyeama.