MOSCOW (AP) — A game neither France nor Denmark needed to win produced the World Cup’s first 0-0 draw amid boos and whistles from fans on Tuesday.
A slow-paced game — officially No. 37 in Russia — was out of step with a vibrant tournament and ensured already-qualified France won Group C and Denmark advanced as runner-up. Both came through unbeaten.
The draw ensured that outcome, though Peru’s 2-0 victory over Australia playing at the same time meant the Danes would have advanced to the round of 16 even had they lost to France.
It was the longest a World Cup had gone without a goalless draw since 1954, which had none.
A French team with six starters resting barely tested Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel until substitute Nabil Fekir tried two long-range shots.
Much of a 78,011 crowd in Luzhniki Stadium whistled misplaced passes and slow play as the game progressed and Denmark protected its point — likely aware Australia had no chance of winning.
Still, thousands of Denmark fans in a stadium seemed happy enough at the final whistle.
It was a mostly forgettable first major tournament start for France goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, who has been a backup at two World Cups and three European Championships. The 33-year-old made his first and only save in the 54th minute, spilling Christian Eriksen’s free-kick before pouncing on the loose ball.
France’s first-choice goalkeeper and captain, Hugo Lloris, was among those rested. Midfielders Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi were obvious choices to sit after collecting yellow cards in a 1-0 win over Peru. A second yellow card before the semifinals triggers a one-game ban.
The team lost rhythm inserting a different trio of attacking midfielders to support Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud.
Perhaps sensing it was time to make entertainment midway through the first half, fans created a wave that made three laps of the stadium. Russian fans broke into their national chant several times to break the boredom.
Whistles and jeers got louder after a misplaced pass in the 64th by France midfielder Thomas Lemar. The ball went off the field 10 yards (meters) behind teammate Benjamin Mendy’s run.
Only in the final 20 minutes, when Fekir and Kylian Mbappe, came off the bench did France show more pace and direct intent. They met a solid Danish defense content with the draw.
KEY TO SUCCESS
Denmark has a tough defense anchored by veteran captain Simon Kjaer, and a high-class goalkeeper in Kasper Schmeichel. Even the top World Cup teams will have difficulty scoring against the Danes.
France has won Group C and will open the round 16 on Saturday afternoon in Kazan, playing the Group D runner-up. That could still be any of Croatia, Nigeria, Iceland or Argentina before their final games later Tuesday.
Denmark gets an extra day off and plays the Group D winner, likely Croatia, on Sunday evening in Nizhny Novgorod.
By GRAHAM DUNBAR , AP Sports Writer