France defeats England, sets semifinal against Morocco


Olivier Giroud’s header in the 78th minute broke a tie and sent France to a 2-1 win over England on Saturday, setting up a World Cup semifinal showdown with Morocco, the first African nation to reach the tournament’s final four.

France dominated possession in the early going but couldn’t capitalize until Aurelien Tchouameni scored on a right-footed strike from distance in the 17th minute.

The goal came at the end of a well-executed counterattack that began with Dayot Upamecano taking the ball from Bukayo Saka deep in the French end and heading the other way. The ball then cycled through Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann on a six-pass sequence that ended with Tchouameni drilling a shot between the legs of England midfielder Jude Bellingham and into the lower left corner from about 30 yards.

The goal was just the second of 10 scores by a French player not named Mbappe or Giroud and it ended a 287-minute scoreless streak for English keeper Jordan Pickford. It was also the first goal England has conceded from outside the penalty area since the first group-play game in 2014 World Cup.

On the other end, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, playing in a national-team-record 143rd game, came up big twice to keep France in front at the intermission — which was a good omen since France has never lost a World Cup game it led at halftime, going 24-0-1, while England has never won when trailing at the break at 0-6-2.

Neither streak would end Saturday, although Saka helped erase England’s deficit early in the second half, going down at the edge of the box under a challenge from Tchouameni to set up a penalty kick, which captain Harry Kane converted to tie the score and match Wayne Rooney as England’s leading international scorer with 53 goals.

It was the 13th free-kick goal in this World Cup.

England nearly took the lead for the first time in the 70th minute when Harry Maguire got on the end of a Jordan Henderson free kick but he spun his header inches wide of the post.

Seven minutes later Giroud’s left-footed volley was turned away on a spectacular diving save by Pickford, but Giroud would not be stopped a second time. Following the resulting corner kick, Griezmann picked him out in the box and delivered an exquisite left-footed cross that Giroud headed in despite Maguire draped all over his back.

The goal was Giroud’s fourth of this World Cup, making the 36-year-old just the second player that age or older to score four times in a single tournament.

Kane, who has scored four times from the spot in the last two World Cups, had a chance to pull England even again after a video review gave it another penalty kick in the 82nd minute, but he skied his kick over the crossbar.

England peppered Lloris was eight shots on goal and wound up dominating the possession battle but will go home early just the same.

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