Defending champion France ends Morocco’s dream in Qatar 2022 and reaches the World Cup final for the fourth time | CNN
France, the defending champion, ended Morocco’s dream in the 2022 World Cup, on Wednesday, with a 2-0 victory at Al-Bayt Stadium.
Theo Hernandez scored on five minutes with an acrobatic finish, as substitute Randall Kolo Mwane homered late on as France reached their fourth World Cup final just four years after winning in Russia.
But Morocco, the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, can return home with its head held high after France came close before Kolo Mane’s decisive blow.
France are the first World Cup holders to reach the final in two decades. Lionel Messi and Argentina now await as France aim to win back-to-back World Cups.
We struggled a lot, especially in the second half. We played very deep and they showed they are not a team focused only on defence. They know how to attack. They deserve a lot of credit in the Cup. this world.
“Now the last step, the most difficult.”
I felt that this semi-final was being played in Rabat or Casablanca instead of Al Khor, and that was the support for Morocco.
The Moroccan players cheered like heroes every time they touched the ball, while their French counterparts whistled and booed.
Not that France were overwhelmed by Morocco’s boisterous support at home and it didn’t take long for Didier Deschamps’ side to take control of the game.
Antoine Griezmann – absolutely fantastic in the quarter-final victory over England – took advantage of the opportunity to slide off defender Jaouad El Yamik to cut into the Moroccan penalty area, before moving on to Kylian Mbappe.
The PSG forward, twisting and turning in the penalty area, made two efforts at goal which were saved by desperate defenders, but the ball swirled to Hernandez, who finished acrobatic to give France an early advantage.
Remarkably, it was the first goal that Morocco conceded from an opposition player in the tournament and it was the first time that the team was behind in Qatar 2022.
However, Morocco was not disconcerted and minutes later Azzedine Onahi made a brilliant save from Hugo Lloris as the Atlas Lions advanced in the match.
Olivier Giroud, the tournament’s second top scorer behind Mbappe and Messi, missed two great chances for France to extend their lead.
First, his shot hit the post as he sprinted towards the Morocco goal, before the Milan striker curled his shot shortly after Yassine Bounou had disallowed Mbappe.
Morocco’s response was Al Yang’s brilliant bicycle kick, which came off the corner of the post, inches away from giving his country a way back to the semi-finals.
After the break, the action was one-way, as Morocco pushed for an equalizer.
Countless times Morocoo have played around France’s scrambled defence, but between a wrong touch or a defender’s final touch, the Atlas Lions have been unable to find an equaliser.
Morocco pressed and charged, but to no avail and then Kolo Mwani – just seconds after coming on as a substitute – converted a deflected effort to score his first international goal and confirm France’s place in Sunday’s final.
Kolo Mwani’s goal was the third-fastest substitute goal in World Cup history, with the Eintracht Frankfurt striker scoring 44 seconds after coming on, according to Opta.
The goal seemed to take the air out of the Morocco fans at Al Bayt Stadium, although they continued to look for a miracle in the game.
Having captured the hearts and minds of the soccer world, it was a sad end to Morocco’s aspirations. But after giving defending champions France a run for their money, Morocco leaves the competition knowing they have achieved more than just success on the pitch.
For France, a gritty final against Argentina at Lusail Stadium on Sunday will see Mbappe take on his Paris Saint-Germain teammate, Messi, as the two teams clash to determine the 2022 world champion.
Argentina is chasing the third title, while glaucoma They are trying to become the first team to retain the World Cup since Brazil achieved the feat 60 years ago.
World Cup winner with the France national team as a player in 1998 onwards glaucoma In 2018, Deschamps said he wanted his players to enjoy their achievements at Qatar 2022.
“Obviously, this was an important match. It’s been a month and we’re together with the players,” Deschamps said, according to FIFA. It’s never easy.
“But it’s been great fun so far, and the group players have compensated for that success. We’ll go after the title on Sunday.”
“We’re going to take the time. I say this to the machine and the players: ‘Take every moment of the day to appreciate the moment and enjoy it.’
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