France vs.  Morocco – Football match report – 14 December 2022

France vs. Morocco – Football match report – 14 December 2022

France vs.  Morocco – Football match report – 14 December 2022

France beat Morocco 2-0 in the semi-finals of the World Cup on Wednesday night at Al Bayt Stadium, ending the African side’s dream run in Qatar.

An early goal from Theo Hernandez and a late touch from substitute Randal Kolo Muani gave holders France a hard-fought victory against a valiant Moroccan side who made African World Cup history in the 2022 tournament.

Didier Deschamps’ side will now face Argentina, who sealed a 3-0 win over Croatia on Tuesday, as the two heavyweights meet for the first time in a World Cup final.

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“There’s emotion, there’s pride, there will be a final step, we’ve been together with the players for a month, it’s never easy, so far there’s happiness,” Deschamps said after the match.

France drenched hopes of another Moroccan miracle in five minutes when a scrum in the penalty area saw the ball fall to Hernandez, who met it at the far post and volleyed over Yassine Bounou.

“Playing two World Cup finals in a row is an incredible moment. We did a good job, it was tough, but we are in the final. We will work hard to win this final,” said Hernandez.

Olivier Giroud hit the post and missed from close range in the first half following a run through the center by Aurelien Tchouameni.

But Morocco never let themselves be intimidated and had an opportunity when Azzedine Ounahi forced two good saves from French captain Hugo Lloris with speculative tries, and the set pieces put pressure on the French defence.

The North Africans have been hit hard by injuries to their key centre-backs with the gamble to name Nayef Aguerd in the starting lineup who couldn’t break away as he injured his hamstring in the warm-up and skipper Romain Saiss had to leave after 20 minutes .

Jawad El Yamiq’s audacious bicycle kick nearly leveled Morocco late in the first half, but Lloris just tipped the ball out of harm’s way as France maintained a 1-0 lead.

Morocco went decisively ahead after the break and Yahya Attiat-Allah rejected a golden opportunity to equalize as they spent much of the first 10 minutes of the second half on France’s defensive end.

Kylian Mbappé’s labyrinthine run into the tight space of Morocco’s penalty area led to France’s lead after the PSG star’s half-shot went on target and Kolo Muani pounced on the lead with the third quickest goal by a substitute in World Cup history as The Blues booked a return to the final.

Morocco coach Walid Regragui guided the Atlas Lions to an unlikely run in Qatar, overseeing a group-winning season, a round of 16 win over Spain and a win against Portugal that made them the first African side to reach the semifinals before losing to France.

“We gave our all, that’s the most important thing,” said Regragui. “We had some injuries, we lost Aguerd in the warm-up, Saiss in the interval. We paid for the slightest mistake. We didn’t enter the game well, we had too much technical waste in the first half, and the second goal kills us, but that doesn’t it takes away everything we’ve done before.”

France beat Argentina 4-3 at the World Cup in Russia in 2018, though The Albiceleste historically holds the head-to-head record with six wins, three draws and three losses in 12 meetings.

France became the first holders to reach back-to-back finals since Brazil in 2002 and are aiming to become the first team in 60 years and third overall to retain the World Cup in back-to-back tournaments.

The country’s president Emmanuel Macron said he was “immensely proud” of France after traveling to Qatar and watching the match with FIFA boss Gianni Infantino.

“I am very proud of my country. I am very happy,” Macron told reporters after the match. “I want the French to enjoy this simple happiness.”

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

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