AL KHOR, Qatar – World champions France are through to the semi-finals in Qatar after Olivier Giroud’s side secured a 78th-minute header from Didier Deschamps in a 2-1 win over England at the Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday.
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Aurelien Tchouameni’s superb 17th-minute strike was canceled out by Harry Kane’s 54th-minute penalty, but after Giroud restored France’s lead, the England captain missed a second penalty when offered a chance to equalize six minutes later. Les Bleus withstood a final score from England and secured his place in the last four.
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1. Penalties cost England again
There was no penalty shootout this time, but England are eliminated from the World Cup after their most reliable penalty taker – one of the best in the world – missed a penalty from 12 yards out with six minutes remaining. Kane had already scored a penalty early in the game, equaling Wayne Rooney’s record in England, but when he reappeared to face Tottenham Hotspur team-mate Hugo Lloris he had an opportunity to start a finely balanced game 2 to equal -2 late, he unusually blazed his attempt over the bar. It was only the fourth time he had missed out of 21 tries for England.
Leading up to the game, Kane downplayed any familiarity issues with Lloris.
“Surprisingly I haven’t practiced too much against Hugo, normally I would practice against the second or third choice keeper the day before the game if you usually practice with them,” Kane said. “I took them against him but I wouldn’t say many and many but I have it similarly against Premier League goalkeepers when I face an English goalkeeper. I’m sticking to my process and sticking to the drill before Game.”
Kane scored against Lloris in a friendly in June 2017 but when it came down to it, the 29-year-old – who has been in fine form throughout the tournament – fell short, recalling England’s most recent penalty shoot-out defeat at Euro 2020 against Italy last summer – and all the penalty drama from seven previous tournaments ends through this mode.
2. Giroud continues to prove invaluable
Giroud spent nine years in England at Arsenal and Chelsea but was not always fully appreciated. His longevity has been remarkable and at the age of 36 he replaced Karim Benzema after the Real Madrid forward missed that tournament through injury. He made the decisive contribution in a World Cup quarter-finals with a superb header as he beat Harry Maguire from an Antoine Griezmann cross.
Giroud broke Thierry Henry’s goal record for France in the round of 16 against Poland, after which Deschamps said: “He’s had difficult periods in his career. He’s been criticized a lot, but people are now.” to see its quality.”
There were some of those difficult times in England, but this is where his big game mentality came through. France won a game of beautiful moments, as their experience in the latter stages of major tournaments – and as holders – has shown, and Giroud embodied that strength of character.
Much of the pre-game focus was on Kylian Mbappe’s battle with Kyle Walker – France’s opening goal came in part from Walker’s initial push only as England lost possession – but in the end, after Tchouameni’s stunning first-half strike, Griezmann and Giroud were up the combination that made it at the Three Lions.
3. Will Southgate continue after England falter against another elite nation?
England manager Gareth Southgate has a contract until 2024 but there has been some speculation as to whether he would have the drive to continue after six years at the helm, particularly given the criticism he received in the summer when England were relegated from the Nations Liga, much of which stems from a group of Three Lions supporters. However, the progress of the team under Southgate is undeniable and is poised to deliver England’s first major tournament win since 1966. And both the manner of that narrow loss to France and the make-up of a young, dynamic squad should encourage him to continue, but England ultimately fell short as they attempted to defeat an elite nation in a knockout game outside of to beat Wembley.
He can’t be faulted for being overly cautious here, sticking to a 4-3-3 form that should give Jude Bellingham a chance to influence the game while Bukayo Saka (who was excellent) and Phil Foden tried Assisting Kane in beating France at eye level rather than containing and countering. Southgate has chalked up six of England’s 15 victories in knockout football, but their away victories have come against Colombia and Sweden in Russia, Ukraine in Rome last summer and Senegal in Qatar.
Southgate has done so much to deconstruct England’s habitual tournament failures, but this inability to beat a top side on the road is a glass ceiling that will require further work to break.
Player ratings (1=worst, 10=best)
England: Jordan Pickford (7), Kyle Walker (6), John Stones (6), Harry Maguire (6), Luke Shaw (6), Jordan Henderson (6), Declan Rice (7), Jude Bellingham (7), Bukayo Saka (8), Harry Kane (7), Phil Foden (7).
subs: Mason Mount 6, Marcus Rashford 6, Raheem Sterling 6, Jack Grealish 6
France: Hugo Lloris (7), Jules Kounde (7), Raphael Varane (7), Dayot Upamecano (6), Theo Hernandez (5), Adrien Rabiot (7), Aurelien Tchouameni (7), Ousmane Dembele (7), Antoine Griezmann (9), Kylian Mbappe (7), Olivier Giroud (8).
Subtitle: Kingsley Coman6
Best and worst performers
BEST: Antoine Griezmann, France. Two more assists, the second of which was a stunning cross from the left for Giroud’s winning goal.
WORST: Theo Hernandez, France. Poor penalty, conceded to yourself for charging into Mount’s back – a decision only made worse by the referee’s inability to give it on the face of it.
Highlights and notable moments
Ahead of the game, FIFA paid tribute to veteran American journalist Grant Wahl, who died early on Saturday morning after falling ill during coverage of Friday’s quarter-final between Argentina and the Netherlands.
FIFA honored American football author Grant Wahl with a tribute on the desk he was supposed to be working on at the World Cup match between France and England.
Wahl died early Saturday while covering the Argentina-Netherlands game in Qatar.
— ESPN (@espn) December 10, 2022
Absolute agony for Captain Kane as the Three Lions’ penalty curse continues.
HARRY KANE MISSES THE PENALTY 😱 pic.twitter.com/UwDpI8qXpQ
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 10, 2022
After the game: What the players and coaches said
Henderson on Kane: “We know how many penalties Harry took for us, how many goals he helped bring us here in the first place. He’ll be stronger for that in the future. He’s a world-class striker and our captain, he’ll bounce back.” “
Giroud: “England played a great game and I want to tell them we’re proud to have beaten such a great team.”
Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
– This was the eighth time England have conceded their first goal in a World Cup knockout game; The Three Lions have only won one of those games: the 1966 final against West Germany.
– Kane’s fourth career goal from the penalty spot at World Cups links Rob Rensenbrink, Gabriel Batistuta and Eusebio for the most time of any man.
– Kane’s missed penalty is the first that England have failed to convert in a World Cup game (without a shootout). They were previously 12-for-12.
England: The Three Lions return on March 23 when they travel to Italy for a repeat of the Euro 2020 final in Euro 2024 qualifiers.
France: Les Bleus march on to the semifinals where they meet Morocco at 2:00pm ET on Wednesday.
https://www.espn.com/soccer/fifa-world-cup/story/4828973/penalties-doom-england-again-as-france-knock-out-three-lions Penalties doom England again as France knock out Three Lions