AL KHOR, Qatar — France are on their technique to a second consecutive World Cup remaining after objectives from Theo Hernandez and substitute Randal Kolo Muani gave Les Blues a 2-0 win over Morocco at Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday.
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Hernandez steered a volley previous Yassine Bounou with simply 5 minutes performed, and though Morocco put up a spirited and defiant show, they had been unable to discover a approach via and conceded once more 11 minutes from time as Kolo Muani tapped residence after good work from Kylian Mbappe. France will face Argentina at Lusail Stadium in Sunday’s remaining.
1. France arrange chance for back-to-back World Cups
Only Brazil in 1962 and Italy in 1938 have ever efficiently defended the World Cup, however France can be part of that illustrious group after reaching the ultimate with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Morocco. Just as they did towards England at the quarterfinal stage, Didier Descamps’ aspect rode their luck at instances and had been strong moderately than fashionable all through, counting on some dogged and sometimes determined defending to repel a Morocco workforce roared on by their tireless supporters.
France, watched right here by President Emmanuel Macron, had been practical when successful in Russia 4 years in the past and the early aim enabled them to take a seat again as soon as once more right here, though Morocco gave them a number of scares previous to Kolo Muani’s late aim. It is troublesome to argue with Deschamps’ outcomes, nonetheless, as France have now certified for three finals of their previous 4 main tournaments. The final workforce to succeed in back-to-back finals had been Brazil in 1994, 1998 and 2002.
2. Injuries weaken Morocco’s stoic defence
Not a single opposition participant had scored towards Morocco at this World Cup earlier than Wednesday, with the one aim they conceded coming via a Nayef Aguerd personal aim of their group-stage victory over Canada. Aguerd (groin) was considered one of 4 gamers who had been health doubts coming into this match, however coach Walid Regragui named all 4 in his beginning lineup with Romain Saiss (thigh), Sofyan Amrabat (again) and Noussair Mazraoui (sickness) included. However, Aguerd didn’t come via the warmup, forcing Morocco right into a late change with Achraf Dari drafted in, whereas Saiss lasted simply 21 minutes earlier than being pressured off injured.
Perhaps the late reshuffle contributed to Hernandez’s opening aim, with Antoine Griezmann discovering area following Jawad El Yamiq’s missed interception to assist create the breakthrough. Morocco had been a persistent menace going ahead, and in equity to Amrabat, he gained the ball again 5 instances within the opening quarter-hour alone. France sat again and Morocco had been keen to do the working, ending with 61% possession, however they had been extra open at the again than at every other level within the event.
Ultimately, France had been in a position to choose them off. Mbappe had a quiet night however considered one of his trademark runs led to a shot that broke fortuitously for Kolo Muani to finish the competition.
3. Hernandez’s curler coaster event continues
He began the event on the bench. He got here in following an harm to his elder brother, Lucas Hernandez. He nearly value France their quarterfinal victory over England by needlessly conceding a late penalty that Harry Kane skied over the crossbar. And now he has fired France into the ultimate.
It isn’t quiet when Theo Hernandez is worried. His aim, a well-taken volley after simply 4 minutes and 39 seconds, was the quickest in a World Cup semifinal since Vava netted within the second minute of Brazil’s 5-2 win towards France in 1958. After two assists within the group stage, it was his third aim contribution at this event, tied for most by a defender alongside Raphael Guerreiro.
He was lucky, nonetheless, to not concede one other penalty when difficult Sofiane Boufal within the twenty seventh minute. Replays appeared to point out Boufal get one thing on the ball earlier than Hernandez tackled him, however VAR Drew Fischer of Canada selected to not intervene. In truth, Boufal was booked. It was one other second of fortune in what has grow to be a curler coaster event for the 25-year-old, who now has a chance to emulate his brother, the beginning left-back in France’s triumphant workforce from 4 years in the past.
Player scores (1 = worst, 10 = finest)
France: Hugo Lloris 7, Jules Kounde 7, Raphael Varane 7, Ibrahima Konate 8, Theo Hernandez 7, Aurelien Tchouameni 8, Youssouf Fofana 7, Ousmane Dembele 7, Antoine Griezmann 8, Kylian Mbappe 7, Olivier Giroud 6
Subs: Marcus Thuram 7, Randal Kolo Muani 7
Morocco: Yassine Bounou 7, Achraf Hakimi 7, Jawad El Yamiq 7, Achraf Dari 7, Romain Saiss 5, Noussair Mazraoui 7, Hakim Ziyech 6, Azzedine Ounahi 7, Sofyan Amrabat 7, Sofiane Boufal 7, Youssef En-Nesyri 6
Subs: Selim Amallah 6, Yahya Attiyat-Allah 6, Abderrazak Hamdallah 6, Zakaria Aboukhlal 6, Abde Ezzalzouli 6
Best and worst performers
BEST: Antoine Griezmann, France. Created extra possibilities (4) than any participant on both workforce and helped present France’s early breakthrough with intelligent motion within the buildup to Hernandez’s opener.
WORST: Olivier Giroud, France. Missed an excellent chance to place France 2-0 up within the first half, and Les Bleus appeared higher when he was changed by Thuram in a tactical rejig.
Highlights and notable moments
Very a lot right here for the heartwarming second between Paris Saint-Germain teammates Mbappe and Hakimi within the tunnel earlier than the match.
Nothing however love between Hakimi and Mbappe within the tunnel earlier than the match ❤️ pic.twitter.com/cK45kpucjs
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 14, 2022
Hernandez will get his boot approach, approach up there to attain the decisive aim.
THE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS SCORE FIRST
Theo Hernández places France out in entrance 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/8YFbCwGN9d
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 14, 2022
After the match: What the gamers and managers mentioned
Regragui: “We gave our best and I can’t ask for more. We lost a few players before the game and also during the match. The players who came in did their best. Ultimately, if you make a few mistakes against a team like France, you pay big-time.”
Hernandez: “It’s incredible to play two in a row. We’ve done good work to get to the final and it will be a tough match against Argentina.”
Key stats (supplied by ESPN Stats & Information)
– Hernandez’s aim was the quickest scored in a World Cup semifinal since Vava struck for Brazil towards France within the second minute of their 1958 semifinal.
– En-Nesyri is the primary participant to play at least 60 minutes in a World Cup recreation and have fewer than 5 touches since at least 1966.
– Griezmann is the primary French participant to create 20 possibilities at a single males’s World Cup since Youri Djorkaeff created precisely 20 in 1998. Griezmann is the primary French participant with greater than 20 possibilities created at a males’s World Cup since Alain Giresse created 24 in 1986.
– Kolo Muani scored along with his first contact of the sport.
France: Les Bleus transfer on to Sunday’s World Cup remaining, once they’ll tackle Messi and Argentina at 10 a.m. ET.
Morocco: The subsequent scheduled fixture for Morocco is an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier towards South Africa on June 12.