France eliminates England, sets up semifinal against Morocco

Olivier Giroud’s 78th-minute header broke a tie and sent France to a 2-1 win over England on Saturday, setting up a World Cup semi-final showdown with Morocco, the first African nation to finish in the last four of the tournament .

France dominated possession in the early stages but were unable to capitalize on it until Aurelien Tchouameni scored from long-range with a right-footed shot in the 17th minute.

The goal came at the end of a well-executed counter-attack that started with Dayot Upamecano taking Bukayo Saka’s ball deep in the French end and heading the other way. The ball then cycled through Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann in a six-pass sequence that ended with Tchouameni drilling a shot between the legs of England midfielder Jude Bellingham and into the bottom left corner from around 30 yards.

The goal was just the second of 10 goals by a French player not named Mbappe or Giroud and it ended a 287-minute goalless streak for England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. It was also the first goal England have conceded from outside the box since the opening group match of the 2014 World Cup.

On the other hand, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who was in a team-record 143 game, played big twice to keep France ahead at the break – which boded well as France have never lost a World Cup game, which they led at half-time by a 24-0-1, while England have never won from 0-6-2 behind at the break.

Neither streak would end on Saturday, although Saka helped close England’s deficit early in the second half by going down on the edge of the box under a challenge from Tchouameni to set up a penalty which captain Harry Kane converted to save equalize goal and join Wayne Rooney as England’s top international goalscorer with 53 goals.

It was the 13th free-kick goal at this World Cup.

England almost took the lead for the first time in the 70th minute when Harry Maguire clinched a free-kick from Jordan Henderson at the end, but he turned his header just inches wide of the post.

Seven minutes later, Giroud’s left-firing volley was averted by Pickford in a spectacular diving save, but Giroud would not be stopped a second time. From the resulting corner, Griezmann selected him in the box and delivered an exquisite left-footed cross that Giroud headed in, despite Maguire draped all over his back.

The goal was Giroud’s fourth at this World Cup, making the 36-year-old only the second player aged 36 or over to score four goals in a single tournament.

Kane, who has struck four times from the penalty spot in the last two World Cups, had a chance to equalize again for England after a video report gave another penalty in the 82nd minute, but he fired his shot over the bar.

Lloris, whipped by England, had eight shots on target and ended up dominating the possession battle but will still go home early. France eliminates England, sets up semifinal against Morocco

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