The goalscoring party was halted, but France did what they had to do which is finish as group winners, and thus avoid Argentina, courtesy a 0-0 draw against 10-man Ecuador at the FIFA World Cup.
France failed to provide the goals and excitement so on view in their last two games, with Ecuador putting in a typically strong and physical performance, but alas not a performance enough to see them through to the last 16 along with their opponents at the Maracana on Wednesday.
Needing to match Switzerland's result against Honduras, Ecuador failed to pick up a win over France, unable to find enough attacking intent, with the sending off of Antonio Valencia early in the second half only adding to the agony. The Swiss, in Manaus, cruised to a 3-0 win, courtesy a splendid Xherdan Shaqiri hat-trick, over Honduras, who also saw their slim chances of making it into the second round bite the dust, to push up to second place in Group E and seal their round of 16 tie against Argentina.
France will now face Nigeria in the pre-quarterfinals, while Ecuador become the first South American casualty at this World Cup.
The first half was pretty cagey, with Ecuador, who needed a win a lot more than France, happy to sit back with a couple of banks of four and invite pressure.
The French, with six changes to their team, did not find their attacking grove, though, with Karim Benzema, who has been on fire at this World Cup, unable to get into the game. Blaise Matuidi, who has been so enterprising for France from left midfield, could also not quite make his mark, while Antoine Griezmann, batting a couple of freekicks, was not involved enough either.
Ecuador were always going to bank on three-goal man Enner Valencia, who gave his country a scare early in the first half when he went down with a knock, and the striker did end up with his team's best chance of the first 45, with his leaping header from seven yards kept out by Hugo Lloris.
A header nearly opened the scoring at the other end as well, but Paul Pogba's strike, off a setpiece from Griezmann, was well tipped over by Alexander Dominguez.
While the first half was dry and forgettable, France nearly jumped into the lead in the second 45 via Griezmann. Bacary Sagna, in for the rested Mathieu Debuchy, swung in a peach of a low cross , which Griezmann directed towards goal at the front post. However, Dominguez was on hand to prevent the ball from crossing the line with the goalkeeper saving the ball onto the post and to safety.
If Ecuador were a little lucky to still be level after that missed opportunity from Griezmann, their luck would not last too long as skipper Valencia saw red for a challenge on Lucas Digne, which was a poor studs-up over-the-top tackle with his foot rolling over the ball and catching the defender.
Ecuador, though, nearly opened the scoring in stunning style, going on a counter and finding themselves with a man advantage in the attack, but Cristhian Noboa fired wide from 12 yards.
With the extra man, France were always going to be dominant and so it proved to be, with Pogba, Matuidi, Loic Remy, Olivier Giroud and Benzema all coming close, with one of the goalkeeper, some supreme blocks or poor finishing keeping the scoreline goalless.
However, with the pressure completely off, and knowing they had top spot as good as sealed, France eased the intensity button, with Ecuador also unable to find that elusive goal as the match petered out to a draw.
In the other Group E match, Switzerland rolled to an easy peasy win over Honduras, with Xherdan Shaqiri, who has been a little hit and miss in the first two games, coming to the fore in style.
Shaqiri could have given Switzerland the lead within the first couple of minutes, but his effort from six yards out, off a nice cross from Josip Drmic, was kept out by Noel Valladares. The playmaker would make up for that miss in stunning fashion, doing a Messi and cutting onto his left foot before curling a peach into the top corner.
That sixth minute goal piled the pressure on Ecuador, and the Europeans only extended their lead just past the half hour, with Shaqiri latching onto a pass from Drmic, and this time making no mistake with the finish, slotting calmly past Valladares.
Shaqiri would complete his hat-trick in the 71st minute, tapping in off another nice assist from Drmic to round off a satisfying evening for the Swiss.