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France beat England in thrilling World Cup quarter-finals

France have beaten England 2-1 in a fast-paced game to set up a World Cup semi-final clash with Morocco, who sensationally defeated Portugal in the other World Cup quarter-final of the day.

Aurelien Tchouameni put France ahead with a long-range shot in the 17th minute at the Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday. England fans were particularly aggrieved after calls for two alleged fouls against Bukayo Saka seconds before the defending world champions opened the scoring were dismissed.

France players huddle together to celebrate after scoring.
France players celebrate after taking the lead [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

It was a fairly even first half, but England started the second with renewed vigour. Saka was brought down again shortly after kick-off, but this time inside the French box, and the referee signaled for the point.

Captain Harry Kane blasted the penalty kick into the net past Tottenham Hotspurs teammate Hugo Lloris to equalize in the 54th minute in front of a crowd of 68,895. It was a goal that left him level with Wayne Rooney as the joint top scorer for the Three Lions.

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris watches the ball hit the back of the net when he is unable to stop Harry Kane's penalty attempt.
Hugo Lloris couldn’t save Harry Kane’s penalty early in the second half [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

There was a chance for Gareth Southgate’s men to take the lead on 70 minutes, but Harry Maguire missed the target and put the ball into the side of the net.

In the 76th minute, Olivier Giroud found a big hole in the English defense and leveled a great volley with his left foot. Pickford caught him safely, but England were not out of the woods for long.

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Another minute, another cross, another chance for Giroud, and France’s top scorer headed in to give France the lead, sending the Les Bleus fans inside the stadium into ecstasy.

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kylian mbappe
Kylian Mbappé was animated throughout the game [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

England had a golden opportunity to equalize on 84 minutes after Theo Hernandez stormed Mason Mount inside the box, but Kane this time dodged his penalty attempt and put him into orbit.

In the end, the French press was too strong for the Three Lions to put up with, and France will play Morocco in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday at Al Bayt Stadium.

“It’s extraordinary. We worked very hard defensively when we were ahead. It reminds me of Belgium in 2018,” Giroud said, referring to France’s 1-0 semi-final win four years ago in Russia.

“Unfortunately we conceded the penalty. But we could be dangerous on some occasions at the end of the game. You always have to believe and (Antoine) Griezmann gave me a great ball (for the goal)”, added Giroud.

“I am very proud. We put out a great performance tonight,” she continued. “We knew the potential of this young English generation. They have it all. We had to use our mental strength to get over the line.”

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“It’s hard to find the right words,” Jordan Henderson told ITV Sport after the match.

“We gave everything in the game, with character and mentality to continue and look for a tie. I can’t say more, really, we gave it our all”.

England manager Gareth Southgate said he didn’t think his team could have done more and given France a great game.

“I think it was just the key moments, you’re playing in a high-level game where not many chances will be created and for most of the big moments we were in the right place,” he said, while also rooting for Kane.

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“For me, we win and lose as a team and we’ve allowed a couple of goals and missed a few chances,” Southgate said. “Harry has been amazing for us, so reliable in those kinds of situations. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the number of goals he scored for us,” he added.

At the stadium, the France fans were pleased that their team had booked a place in the semi-final.

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“It was a close game. They didn’t want to play. Kylian Mbappe was marked wherever he went,” Max Balazun told Al Jazeera.

“It will be a very tough game against Morocco. They eliminated Spain and Portugal,” he said.

Hamza Mohamed contributed reporting from Al Bayt Stadium.

France fans
France supporter Max Balazun (R) after the match [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

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