Fancied France and Denmark played out the first 0-0 draw of the Russia World Cup on Tuesday which was good enough to see both teams into the last 16.
All previous 36 games of the tournament had seen goals but the series ended in a stale affair at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium in which neither side took major risks as the result suited them just fine.
New-look formations created no serious chances as France’s Antoine Griezmann and Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen were unable to lift their team in front of a sell-out crowd of 78,011 which loudly voiced its dissent after the final whistle.
France topped Group C with seven points after earlier wins over Australia (2-1) and Peru (1-0), with Denmark second on five after earlier winning 1-0 over Peru and a 1-1 against the Socceroos.
Peru finished third by beating Australia in the other game as Denmark were never under threat from losing second place to the Aussies.
In the last 16, France play Saturday in Kazan against the second-placed team from Group D, and Denmark take on the Group D winner the next day in Nizhny Novgorod.
All four group D teams are still in contention: Croatia, Nigeria, Iceland and Argentina but only Croatia and Nigeria can win the group.
France coach Didier Deschamps made six changes to the team that started against Peru, leaving out a trio with yellow cards led by Paul Pogba, and other absentees including forward Kylian Mbappe and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, which gave veteran keeper Steve Mandanda a first big-event start.
Denmark’s Age Hareide had William Kvist missing with injury and Yussuf Poulsen suspended, with Martin Braithwaite taking Poulsen’s place up front.
Brathwaite had two determined runs into the French penalty area early on but was then stopped on each occasion, and it took until the 15th minute until some sort of danger occurred, Oliver Giroud’s shot off Lucas Hernandez being deflected for a corner-kick.
The fans soon started the Mexican wave, which originated out of boredom with the action on the pitch, as the game grew stale and firm defence ruled.
There was a brief moment of life in the 29th when a joint effort from Mandanda and Hernandez denied Eriksen from converting a low cross from the left by Andreas Cornelius.
Ousmane Dembele aimed wide left in the 33rd, and the largely invisible Griezmann shot into Kaspar Schmeichel’s arms as the half ended amid a cacaphony of jeers and boos when the teams left the pitch.
Griezmann had another tame attempt at Schmeichel shortly after the restart and on the other, Mandanda let Eriksen’s long-range free-kick bounce before burying the ball. Griezmann’s replacement Nabil Fekir fired into the side-netting and was denied by Schmeichel.
The game then trickled out amid more jeers mainly against Les Bleus and “Rossiya” chants by the home fans. Not even the late sub Mbappe could break the deadlock while his midfield team-mate Ngolo Kante was named man of the match.