France will take on Morocco in the Qatar 2022 semi-finals after a thrilling, topsy-turvy 2-1 win over England at Al Bayt Stadium.
- Harry Kane scores one penalty but misses another as England crash out
- Tchouameni and Giroud on target to send holder France through
- Neither team deserved to lose a fantastic match full of first-rate football
England 1-2 France
France will take on Morocco in the Qatar 2022 semi-finals after a thrilling, topsy-turvy 2-1 win over England at Al Bayt Stadium. Olivier Giroud’s deflected second-half header ended up being the winner after Harry Kane blazed over a late penalty, having earlier scored from the spot to cancel out Aurelien Tchouameni’s well-struck opener.
Much had expected of this clash of two European titans, and the game more than lived up to its lofty billing. Neither team was maintain control as momentum shifted one direct, then the other, with England starting the brighter before France capitalised on a short spell of pressure.
Few would have predicted the goalscorer, though, with Tchouameni smashing into the bottom-left corner from 25 yards for his first-ever competitive goal for Les Bleus. The remainder of the first half became something of a personal battle between Kane and Hugo Lloris, club-mates at Tottenham Hotspur, with the keeper racing from his goal to save at the striker’s feet before agilely tipping away a deflected 20-yard effort.
England’s captain would not be denied, however, and claimed a deserved equaliser nine minutes into the second half with a trademark penalty into the top-left corner after the lively Bukayo Saka had been upended.
Both teams created chances in the spell that followed, with Jordan Pickford producing one particularly impressive save to divert a net-bound Giroud volley behind for a corner. France’s record scorer also showed his persistence, though, and was rewarded when his near-post header from Antoine Griezmann’s inviting cross from the left flashed past Pickford via a touch off Harry Maguire.
Game over and drama at an end? No chance. England earned another penalty soon after a crazy Theo Hernandez shove on the back of Mason Mount was penalised following a VAR check.
Kane again stepped up, aiming for the same part of the goal, but this time his normally flawless technique let him down and the ball flew wildly over. England huffed and puffed thereafter, with Marcus Rashford curling just over from a late free-kick. But the holders held on, albeit only just, to progress to face Qatar 2022’s surprise package in the last four.
There are few more reliable penalty takers in world football than Kane. He won the adidas Golden Boot largely as a result of his expertise from the spot, having scored just once from open play. But although England expected the net to bulge when he stepped up for a second time at Al Bayt Stadium, he sent the ball high into the stands and extended the Three Lions’ agonising wait for major tournament success.
With his 53rd international goal, Harry Kane equalled Wayne Rooney’s national scoring record. The Three Lions captain, Russia 2018’s top scorer, has reached this impressive tally in 40 fewer appearances (80 to 120) than his former team-mate required. All the same, thanks to that second penalty, it will be a night that will stay in his memory for all the wrong reasons.
Player of the match