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Rediff.com  » Sports » PHOTOS: France go past England into the semi-finals

PHOTOS: France go past England into the semi-finals

Last updated on: December 11, 2022 03:32 IST
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If this sporting clash was, as English essayist, novelist and journalist George Orwell said, “war minus the shooting” both sets of players were more than ready, and set about each other with little restraint.

France's Aurelien Tchouameni celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's first goal

IMAGE: France's Aurelien Tchouameni celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's first goal. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The French cockerel crowed long and hard into the night on Saturday after France beat age-old rivals England 2-1 to reach the World Cup semi-finals and send their neighbours home.

 

On a patch of verdant grass incongruously sat in the middle of a parched Qatari desert, the reigning champions repelled England's assaults and broke English hearts.

France's Hugo Lloris makes a save

IMAGE: France's Hugo Lloris makes a save. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

In a closely fought match of millimetres it was ironic that the result was ultimately determined by a wild and woefully mis-hit penalty, blasted into the stand by England’s usually reliable goal machine Harry Kane.

Having earlier smashed an unstoppable spot kick past Hugo Lloris, barely a soul in the cavernous Al Bayt Stadium would have expected the striker to miss his chance to level the match at 2-2 and become England’s record goalscorer.

France's Theo Hernandez is shown a yellow card by Referee Wilton Sampaio

IMAGE: France's Theo Hernandez is shown a yellow card by Referee Wilton Sampaio. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Such is sport, though, and instead of leading the fightback, the man the English media call 'King Harry' left the pitch disconsolate.

“It’s a game of fine margins,” said England coach Gareth Southgate, who missed the decisive penalty in a shootout against Germany in the semi-finals at Euro 96.

"For me, we win and lose as a team and we've let a couple of goals in and missed a few chances. Harry has been incredible for us, so reliable in those sorts of situations. We wouldn't be here, but for the number of goals he scored for us.”

France's Olivier Giroud scores the team's second goal

IMAGE: France's Olivier Giroud scores the team's second goal. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Such drama was perhaps predictable in this first-ever World Cup knockout clash between two nations with such a long history of rivalry.

Before the kick-off, the scene for high drama was set. Smoke had hung in the air following a display of pre-match fireworks.

If this sporting clash was, as English essayist, novelist and journalist George Orwell said, “war minus the shooting” both sets of players were more than ready, and set about each other with little restraint.

France's Antoine Griezmann heads the ball

IMAGE: France's Antoine Griezmann heads the ball. Photograph: Elsa/Getty Images

Early exchanges were robust and, fittingly, the French took the lead while England were complaining about a foul not given on Bukayo Saka. As the English were waving arms and remonstrating, Antoine Griezmann rolled a perfectly weighted ball to Aurelien Tchouameni.

A game of millimetres. A millimetre either way and Tchouameni’s shot would have hit Jude Bellingham, instead of flying perfectly through the space between his stretched legs.

A millimetre either way and Jordan Pickford would have pushed it round the post instead of picking it out of the net.

England's Phil Foden battles for possession with France's Antoine Griezmann

IMAGE: England's Phil Foden battles for possession with France's Antoine Griezmann. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

From the outset France defenders Jules Kounde and Raphael Varane were physical in the tackle, while Theo Hernandez was eventually booked for his repeated hauling down of England’s attacking threat, mainly Saka who had got the better of him down the right wing early on.

Not to be outdone, lightweight striker Griezmann earned himself a first-half booking for repeatedly running into England’s players.

England's Harry Kane and France's Dayot Upamecano grounded after a challenge

IMAGE: England's Harry Kane and France's Dayot Upamecano grounded after a challenge. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Fittingly, then, England found their way back into the match when Saka was tripped by Tchouameni and Kane smashed the resulting penalty high beyond his Tottenham Hotspur team mate Hugo Lloris to draw level with Wayne Rooney as England’s record scorer on 53 goals.

Cue that man Griezmann and another perfect assist, this time lining a cross straight onto Olivier Giroud’s head for the forward's fourth goal of the tournament to restore France's lead.

Harry Kane of England reacts after a challenge from Dayot Upamecano of France

IMAGE: England's Harry Kane appeals for a penalty after a challenge from France's Dayot Upamecano of France. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Again, though, French indiscipline gave England a lifeline when Hernandez flattened Mason Mount. But, with all the stadium braced for the game to become all-square, Kane missed from the spot -- not by millimetres this time but by much, much more.

France's Kylian Mbappe battles for possession with England's Jordan Henderson

IMAGE: France's Kylian Mbappe battles for possession with England's Jordan Henderson. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

England's Phil Foden shoots while France's Raphael Varane and Jules Kounde attempt to block

IMAGE: England's Phil Foden shoots while France's Raphael Varane and Jules Kounde attempt to block. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

 England Head Coach, Gareth Southgate embraces France Head Coach Didier Deschamps prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France

IMAGE: England Head Coach, Gareth Southgate embraces France Head Coach Didier Deschamps prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter-final match between England and France. Photograph: Elsa/Getty Images
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