Moscow (AP) — A game no team needed to win became the game no fan would want to watch.
The slow-paced game was out of step with a vibrant tournament. But it advanced both teams to the round of 16 unbeaten, with the bonus of no players suspended and no serious injuries. France will now play Argentina, and Denmark face Croatia.
The draw would always have ensured that outcome, and became inevitable in the second half. Events elsewhere in Group C made this game all but irrelevant.
Peru beat Australia 2-0 in Sochi at the same time, meaning the Danes would have advanced even if they lost to France before 78,011 at the World Cup’s signature Luzhniki Stadium.
“We did what we needed,” Denmark coach Age Hareide said, praising his team for a disciplined display. “We would have been stupid to open a lot of space for the French team.”
France were already sure to advance with two opening victories, and this result spread the happiness to Denmark and their thousands of fans who stayed to dance and cheer in an empty stadium.
Less happy were the neutral fans in the crowd. Many Russians cheered the host team’s name and whistled misplaced passes and slow play as the game progressed with Denmark protecting their one point for a draw.
It was the longest a World Cup had gone without a goalless draw since 1954, a tournament of 26 games which all delivered at least one goal.
“We didn’t have to take risks to get better because this result was good for everyone,” France coach Didier Deschamps said.