Morocco beat Portugal, France beat England

The World Cup semifinals are set! After Croatia and Argentina secured their places on Friday, history was made on Saturday as Morocco beat Portugal to become the first African team to reach the last four. They meet defending champions France, who overtook England in the other quarter-final game.

Be sure to check back on ESPN during the tournament as we bring you the latest from Qatar. Here’s what you may have missed from Saturday’s World Cup events and a preview of next week’s action.

– World Cup news, features, previews and more
– Stream FC Daily and Futbol Americas on ESPN+

World Cup semi-finals: Argentina-Croatia, France-Morocco

After the games on Saturday we have two full days off before the first semi-final (Argentina-Croatia) on Tuesday and the second semi-final (France-Morocco) on Wednesday. There will be plenty of previews and breakdowns of the two games with a view to the finals on December 18th, but a few notes to start with:

  • It is France’s seventh appearance in the semifinals, followed by Argentina (5), Croatia (3) and Morocco (1).

  • Morocco is the first African nation to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup and only the third country outside of Europe and South America to reach the semi-finals, most recently in 2002 by co-hosts South Korea (and by the United States in the first year, 1930). edition).

  • France are the first defending champions to reach the semi-finals since Brazil did so in 1998, where they eventually lost in the final to… France.

  • Lionel Messi’s goal against the Netherlands tied with legend Gabriel Batistuta for the most World Cup goals by an Argentine (10).

  • Try not to let it be too late when playing against Croatia. They are, along with Germany, the teams with the most penalties won without defeat in World Cup history (both 4-0 on penalties).

Morocco’s historic run sends Ronaldo, Portugal home

What Morocco have achieved at this edition of the World Cup is nothing short of remarkable. Drawn in a group with Belgium and Croatia and changing coaches just a few months before the tournament, they were simply hoping for a place in the last 16.

But the Atlas Lions have surpassed that and then some. A 1-0 win over Portugal in what is likely Cristiano Ronaldo’s last World Cup has made Morocco the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the tournament. And they’ve done it the hard way, with victories over heavyweights Belgium, Spain and Portugal.

With a defensive counter style that has confused these European sides, Morocco’s Cinderella run embodies a fighting spirit. Appropriate, as Moroccan coach Walid Regragui called his team “the Rocky Balboa of this World Cup”. And now they meet defending champions France in the semi-finals next Wednesday – there is plenty of history between the two nations so expect another memorable clash.



Gabby Amado hails Cristiano Ronaldo for the impact he has had on Portuguese football after his World Cup dream was dashed by Morocco.

Ronaldo was called up again for Portugal, coming on as a substitute early in the second half and equaling the official FIFA record as the men’s top international player at 196, but even he failed to find a final major World Cup moment. If this is the last time we see one of history’s greatest players on this stage, it was a very humble way of saying goodbye.



Steve McManaman hails England’s performance despite losing 2-1 to France at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

France offers England Adieu as Kane misses a major penalty

With six minutes left on the rule and a chance to keep England’s World Cup hopes alive, star striker Harry Kane – one of the world’s best penalty takers – was also close to making Three Lions history. Instead, Kane sailed the ball from the point over the net of French keeper Hugo Lloris. France held their ground and secured their spot in the semi-finals with a 2-1 win.

Kane had already scored a penalty early in the game, equaling Wayne Rooney’s all-time England record, but when he faced his Tottenham Hotspur team-mate Lloris again, he shot unusually over the bar. It was only the fourth time he had missed out of 21 tries for England.

It’s nothing to bow to the holders for, but this England side had the talent and tools to win it all in Qatar. It’s another major tournament without a trophy for England. When the 2026 World Cup is four years from now, it will be 60 years since the 1966 triumph.

As for France, they will be the favorites of the last four. They will be on high alert against Morocco on Wednesday but this group of French attacking stars could finally break through the Atlas Lions’ defensive block. Aurelien Tchouameni’s powerful 17th-minute strike gave France the lead but Olivier Giroud netted a crucial header in the 78th minute which was served on a plate by Antoine Griezmann. Griezmann, who has always been France’s leader with 27 assists, has reinvented himself in Qatar as a makeshift midfielder in coach Didier Deschamps’ squad.

Kylian Mbappe failed to increase his five-goal tally but remains in the lead and wins the Golden Boot. Even on a quiet evening against England, his team-mates rose to the occasion and made progress.



Rob Dawson debates whether Gareth Southgate will remain in charge of England after quarter-final defeat.

Today’s top readings


Luis Enrique was divisive but Spain won’t be the same without him
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Netherlands vs. Argentina World Cup quarterfinals saw record 18 yellow cards
Lionel Messi was among a World Cup record 17 players or coaches to be shown a yellow card during or after the game.

Messages and Notes

  • American football author Grant Wahl was honored with a FIFA tribute on the desk he was scheduled to work on at Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final match between France and England. A bouquet of white lilies and a framed photograph of Wahl taken in Qatar were left in the media seat assigned to the 48-year-old journalist, who died early Saturday. Wahl fell ill while working during extra time of Friday’s Argentina-Netherlands game at the Lusail Stadium. He was treated by medical staff in the media stand and later taken to the hospital by ambulance.

  • FIFA initiated disciplinary proceedings against Argentina over their actions during the controversial World Cup quarter-final win over the Netherlands. The world governing body of football quoted “Order and safety at matches” in its disciplinary code to impeach the Argentine federation. Lionel Messi was among a World Cup record 17 players or coaching staff to be shown a yellow card during or after the match.

  • Germany and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer suffered a broken leg on a ski tour that will rule him out for the rest of the season. Neuer, 36, represented Germany at the World Cup in Qatar but the four-time winners suffered an embarrassing early exit in the group stage. Morocco beat Portugal, France beat England

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