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Friday, January 27, 2023

World Cup champion France edges out England to reach semifinals as Harry Kane misses penalty | CNN

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World Cup holder France remains on course in its title defense after beating England 2-1 to reach the semifinals at Qatar 2022.

Aurélien Tchouaméni gave France a first-half lead, his powerful shot setting the game ablaze at the Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday.

England grew into the game and team captain Harry Kane emphatically converted from the penalty spot to draw the 2018 semifinalists level. The goal was his 53rd for his country, drawing him level with Wayne Rooney as England’s all-time top scorer.

With just over 10 minutes remaining, Olivier Giroud’s header gave the reigning champion the lead once again, with Kane skying a late penalty as France was able to hold onto victory.

France will face Morocco in the semifinals on Wednesday after it beat Portugal earlier in the day to become the first ever team from Africa to reach this stage of the World Cup.

The French victory ensured Didier Deschamps’ team is the first defending champion to have progressed past the quarterfinals this century.

It was a match between two out of the final four teams at the 2018 World Cup, with both nations seen as heavyweight contenders to win the Qatar 2022 title.

And even in the early exchanges, the magnitude of the moment was evident, as the two teams tested each other out.

The first real chance of the game came just after the 10-minute mark, when Giroud directed a cross straight into the grateful arms of Jordan Pickford in England’s goal.

The breakthrough for the French wasn’t without controversy.

England winger Bukayo Saka was left on the floor after a tackle from France defender Dayot Upamecano, although Brazilian referee Wilton Sampaio turned away English protests claiming a foul.

And, after a swift counterattack involving Kylian Mbappé, England was punished as a bullet of a strike from Tchouaméni – his first World Cup goal – from outside the box nestled in the bottom corner to give France the lead.

Minutes later, England players were once again pleading with Sampaio for a decision in their favor after Upamecano and Kane tangled legs on the edge of the French penalty box.

After a brief deliberation with the video assistant referee (VAR), those pleas were dismissed and the game continued.

Chances were few and far between in the remainder of the first half, with Kane coming closest, his close-range shot saved by his Tottenham Hotspur teammate Hugo Lloris in the France goal.

Immediately after the second half, England came out firing, with Jude Bellingham’s powerful effort from the edge of the box tipped over by Lloris.

The pressure eventually told as Saka was fouled by Tchouaméni and the referee pointed to the penalty spot, giving England the perfect opportunity to draw level.

Kane emphatically took advantage, powering the ball into the corner of the France goal, in doing so becoming England’s joint top scorer alongside former Manchester United forward Rooney.

Kane celebrates after scoring for England against France.

Almost immediately from the restart, France almost reclaimed the lead, but Adrien Rabiot’s first-time effort from the edge of the box was palmed away by Pickford.

England looked the most likely to score, with a header from Harry Maguire glancing off the post as Gareth Southgate’s side turned up the pressure.

Against the run of play, France retook the lead through its all-time top scorer, Giroud heading home to give France the lead again with just over 10 minutes remaining.

England had a golden chance to draw level for a second time after Theo Hernández was adjudged to have fouled Mason Mount, Sampaio awarding a second penalty after reviewing the incident with the help of VAR.

This time, however, Kane blazed his effort over the bar.

Despite consistent pressure, England was unable to find a late equalizer, with Marcus Rashford’s freekick in the game’s final moments landing on the roof of the net.

And, as the referee’s final whistle went, the French players gathered in a celebratory huddle as Kane sank to his haunches in desperation.

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