Antonio Valencia endured a night to forget on Wednesday after receiving a red card before exiting the World Cup via a goalless draw with Patrice Evra's France, who march into the last 16 with confidence.
United fans were denied the opportunity to see Evra defend against his Reds team-mate Valencia after the Frenchman was named on the bench by manager Didier Deschamps, who made six changes to his starting XI for this final match in Group E.
France controlled the early stages, keeping possession against an Ecuador side that clearly held plans to counter attack at every opportunity. While that tactic was perhaps shrewd, given that the South Americans could only qualify with a shock victory, it contributed towards an underwhelming first half that lacked quality in the final thirds.
The first meaningful chance fell to ex-Red Paul Pogba, who forced a flamboyant save from goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez with a decent header from Antoine Griezmann’s cross. Ecuador then went up the other end and almost scored when Enner Valencia’s header forced a smart stop from Hugo Lloris just before the break.
Neither manager made changes for the second half but Ecuador were quickly forced to reshuffle after captain and talisman Antonio Valencia was sent off for a studs-up challenge on left-back Lucas Digne, despite replays showing the United winger’s boot had initially made contact with the ball.
With one less player on the pitch, the match finally opened up and both sides began to show more ambition in attack,