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France break Moroccan hearts to set up date with Argentina

The defending champions are into the World Cup final in Qatar

France booked a place in the World Cup final against Argentina in Qatar after beating Morocco 2-0 with goals from Theo Hernandez and Randal Muani.

Les Bleus had a lucky break early in the game when a slip in Morocco’s back line allowed Antoine Griezmann to break free and pass into the box to Kylian Mbappe.

The Atlas Lions tussled with the Paris Saint-Germain superstar and managed to block his shot, but the ball broke free to left back Lucas Hernandez who smashed a bouncing half-volley past Yassine Bounou on five minutes. 

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France came close again when Olivier Giroud clipped Bounou’s post on 17 minutes.

After that, though, it was pretty much all Morocco as the African and Arab world’s first ever semifinalists in competition history had a flurry of chances through the rest of the first half and swathes of the second.

Noticing that Mbappe was not tracking back and marking his PSG teammate Achraf Hakimi on the right flank, France coach Didier Deschamps was smart to bring off Giroud and replace him with Marcus Thuram.

Putting Thuram on the left wing, Deschamps moved Mbappe to a central striker’s role that proved vital to wrapping up the tie.

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The scorer of France’s first goal in a 2-1 win over England in the quarterfinals, Aurelien Tchouameni carved Morocco up with a run from midfield and found Mbappe.

Mbappe exchanged slick passes with Thuram, and then shot. Again with luck on their side, the French saw the ball spill to Randal Muani to hit home on 79 minutes.

Deep into stoppage time, Morocco had a shot blocked on the line by Jules Kounde after he had previously seen future Barcelona colleague Ez Abde dribble past him with ease on the same move.

It wasn’t Morocco’s night, and the ball wouldn’t go in. Again demonstrating champions’ mettle, France are through to their second consecutive final and are the first team to achieve the feat since Brazil in 1998 and 2002.

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Should they win, they will also be the first team since the South Americans to win back-to-back titles in 1958 and 1962 with Pele. 

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December 15, 2022 at 02:37AM
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