FIFA World Cup favourites France booked their place in the last four, defeating tournament top-scorers England in an enthralling quarter-final meeting. Les Bleus will come up against surprise-package Morocco having now won six consecutive World Cup knock-out games, Abbeylivenetwork.com reports.
The opening stages of the game – a fixture not seen at the World Cup since England beat France 3-1 in 1982 – were characterised by quick transitions, and within 20 minutes, Les Bleus were ahead courtesy of an incisive counterattack. Kylian Mbappé played a crucial role, riding Declan Rice’s challenge before the ball made its way to Aurélien Tchouaméni, who struck low past Pickford from distance.
Possibly feeling aggrieved after Dayot Upamecano’s overzealous challenge in the build-up to the goal, the England camp had further reason to feel affronted soon after. Harry Kane was heavily involved as the Three Lions searched for a response, and he was bundled over by Upamecano on the edge of the area, but once again, nothing was given, ensuring the French would lead at half time.
However, that lead looked precarious straight after the break with Jude Bellingham and Harry Maguire each coming close in quick succession. By this stage, an equaliser looked on the cards, and it was handed to England on a plate. Tchouaméni went from hero to villain, recklessly upending Bukayo Saka in the box, allowing Kane to blast a spot-kick beyond club teammate Hugo Lloris.
That goal seemingly elevated the pace of the contest, as England stepped up a gear, clipping the post via a Maguire header, before Luke Shaw’s dangerous cross caused momentary panic. At the other end, Olivier Giroud forced a reaction save out of Jordan Pickford, only to break England hearts seconds later. Antoine Griezmann’s whipped cross found France’s all-time record scorer in the box, allowing Giroud to power a header in off Maguire.
Very little has gone according to the script in this World Cup, and right on cue, yet more drama was served up. Substitute Mason Mount was aggressively bundled over in the box by Theo Hernández, resulting in a make-or-break late penalty for the usually reliable Kane. However, with the unenviable weight of his nation on his shoulders, the England captain blazed over. A commendable display from the Three Lions ultimately came up short, as France edged a well-matched battle in their pursuit to become the first nation to win back-to-back World Cup editions since Brazil in 1962.