AL KHOR: Kylian Mbappe and France made it back to the semi-finals of the World Cup by beating England 2-1 here on Saturday.
Olivier Giroud scored the winner in the 78th minute at the Al Bayt Stadium to keep France on course to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to win back-to-back World Cups. Giroud raced away in delight when his headed effort deflected off England central defender Harry Maguire and sailed past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
England captain and striker Harry Kane had a chance to level the score late in the match, but sent a penalty attempt over the bar. It was his second spot-kick of the match. He had earlier scored in the 54th minute to make it 1-1 after Aurelien Tchouameni had given France the lead in the 17th with a powerful drive from outside the box.
In the last-four stage, defending champion France will face Morocco, which became the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup by defeating Portugal 1-0.
On Saturday, England had been looking like the team more likely to score when the match was at 1-1. But, instead it was Giroud who connected with Antoine Griezmann’s cross to extend his record as France’s all-time leading men’s scorer to 53 goals.
The celebrations did not last long, however, as referee Wilton Sampaio reviewed a challenge from left-back Theo Hernandez on English substitute Mason Mount in the box. The Brazilian official then awarded the penalty. Kane had sent Tottenham Hotspur teammate Hugo Lloris the wrong way with his earlier penalty-kick after Tchouameni brought down Bukayo Saka, but lifted his next effort from the spot high over the crossbar.
After scoring 12 goals on the way to the quarter-finals in Qatar 2022, England trailed for the first time at the World Cup. It was also the first time that the English team had conceded a goal since the opening 6-2 rout of Iran. Kane’s goal was his 53rd for England, moving him into a tie with Wayne Rooney for the most goals scored for the men’s national team.
Mbappe did not have a goal of his own to celebrate, but cheered passionately after Kane’s crucial penalty miss. Mbappe is the leading scorer at the ongoing World Cup with five goals, one more than Giroud and Argentine legend Lionel Messi. England head coach Gareth Southgate has often been criticised for being too cautious in big games, but opted for a back-four against France and loaded his team with attacking threats.
RESULT: England 1 (H Kane 54(P)) lost to France 2 (A Tchouameni 17, O Giroud 78)
Defending champion France advances to semi-finals, tops England 2-1