By Annie Ross

France could have lost in the World Cup quarterfinals yesterday.

But Uruguay’s great forward was injured and the Uruguay goalkeeper made a horrible screw-up and the French netminder not made an almighty save about a half-hour after almost swallowing a large bug.

But none of those events turned against Les Bleus and, with a 2-0 victory that emphasized efficiency over style, a semifinal is in their immediate future for the first time since 2006. They’ll play Belgium on Tuesday in St. Petersburg, two steps from replicating their first championship of 20 years ago.

Blessed with an abundance of riches, France entered the tournament as a serious contender. And although nothing has altered that status, Les Bleus have left admirers wanting more. They are individually so good all over the pitch that one must brace for a comprehensive performance at some point soon.

“We played better, but we didn’t play the perfect match either,” Coach Didier Deschamps said. “All of these games are giving us strength and confidence.”