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France advances to semifinals at World Cup


Nepalnews
2022 Dec 11, 17:01, Qatar
France players celebrate after France's Aurelien Tchouameni scored his side's opening goal during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between England and France, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (AP Photo)

France’s players reacted as if they had already won the World Cup. What they were actually celebrating, though, was Harry Kane’s missed penalty.

The match wasn’t over yet, but France was leading 2-1 when Kane, England’s captain and its best player, stepped up to take a penalty that would even the score in the 84th minute of Saturday’s match at Al Bayt Stadium.

He sent his shot high over the bar and defending champion France held on to win 2-1 for a spot in the semifinals.

France is looking to become the first country to successfully defend its World Cup title since Brazil — led by Pele — won back-to-back tournaments in 1958 and 1962. Italy also won two World Cups in succession in 1934 and 1938.

France will next face Morocco on Wednesday for a spot in the final.

England's Harry Kane celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between England and France, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (AP Photo)
England's Harry Kane celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between England and France, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (AP Photo)

France knows that all too well.

As defending champions in 2002, the French team was eliminated in the group stage. France reached the final in 2006, losing to Italy in a penalty shootout, and then was knocked out in the group stage four years later in 2010.

On Saturday, Aurelian Tchouameni gave France the lead but England evened the score when Kane converted from the penalty spot in the 54th minute. Olivier Giroud put France back in front with a header in the 78th minute, setting up Kane for that chance to equalize again against his Tottenham teammate, France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

That’s when he blasted his shot over.

Kane sank to his knees after the final whistle. His earlier goal put him in a tie with Wayne Rooney as his country’s leading scorer, but that wasn’t what mattered.

At the same time, an elated France team ran across the field in a blue wave of celebration before gathering together in a huddle, bouncing up and down joyously.

The singing and dancing continued into the locker room.

Morocco, the first African team to reach the semifinals of a World Cup, now stands in the way of France’s bid to make history.

For Southgate, it’s time for reflection as he decides whether to carry on in the England job after leading the team through three tournaments since he was hired in 2016.

BOLD APPROACH

Southgate has often been criticized for being too cautious in the biggest games, but he opted for a back four against France and loaded his team with attacking threats.

FLAT START

Maguire kicked the ball out of play at the very beginning of the match even though there was no pressure from a France opponent. Air was leaking out of the ball and Maguire informed the referee that a new one was needed.

READ ALSO:

France advances to semifinals World Cup Harry Kane Al Bayt Stadium Semifinals
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