Play was stopped, but the suspense was palpable. France fullback Lucas Digne lay on the turf, shaken up when Ecuador midfielder Antonio Valencia left cleat marks on his leg while they fought for the ball.
How would Noumandiez Doue adjudicate the matter? The referee from the Ivory Coast waited until Digne was medically treated and helped up . . . then displayed a red card.
Valencia's disqualification figured hugely into the fate of Group E at the
Switzerland assumed the sweet 16 slot that Ecuador yearned for by dunking Honduras 3-0 on a hat trick from Xherdan Shaqiri.
The day dawned with Ecuador essentially seeking to match Switzerland's result. When Shaqiri scored twice in the first half on a blistering left-footer off the underside of the crossbar and an easier one on a 2-on-2 fast break, Ecuador became aware that nothing less than a win would prevent it from becoming the only South American entrant erased in group play.
The French, with six starters sitting out of an insignificant game for them, seemed home free with Valencia's ejection. But Ecuador ratcheted up its energy level and, 10-on-11, outworked France for the next half-hour with intermittent scoring threats.
France finally got rolling in the waning moments, and back-and-forth chances at each end spiced up the goal-starved game.