The last ticket left for the semi-finals has been booked.
France’s quest for a World Cup repeat continued with a 2-1 victory over England in a thrilling quarter-final.
Gareth Southgate and Didier Deschamps each produced a solid starting line-up in the last 16.
England maintained a 4-3-3 formation with Phil Foden on the left wing and Jordan Henderson in the right centre-half role. France maintained a mixed 4-2-3-1 formation with Antoine Griezmann roaming.
As expected, England dominated possession in the early stages with a 3-2-5 formation against France 4-4-2 in the middle of the block with negative pressure. In the 15th minute, right-back Kyle Walker, who played for Kylian Mbappe, took advantage of the right-half space between Mbappe and left-back Theo Hernandez. But he did not cross the ball in the penalty area and fired Mbappe on the counterattack.
The French star equalized with three England defenders on the left before returning the ball to the right, where Griezmann crossed it to Aurelien Choameni for a superb long-range shot from outside the penalty area in the 17th minute.
England have ratcheted up the tension since then, with Harry Kane getting two good chances for French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, both of which were fellow Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. Lloris made two crucial saves to keep it 1-0 up at halftime.
The Three Lions kept the pressure going early in the second half when Judd Bellingham saw a right-footed half-volley outside the penalty area deflected by Lloris.
In the end, it was Bukayo Saka and Bellingham’s right-hand magic that scored England’s first goal. A quick pass between the two forced Tchoameni to tackle Saka inside the penalty area, and Harry Kane advanced to the spot kick, slotting a convincing penalty past Lloris.
France struggled to keep the ball with the English press, which made the French uncomfortable. Mbappe could do little against the double teams the Three Lions would have put on him, and England almost went the other way when Harry Maguire headed in Jordan Henderson’s free-kick that bounced off the near left post.
That little piece of Maguire just eight minutes later when Olivier Giroud beat him with a Griezmann header in the 78th minute to give France a 2-1 advantage.
Pressure returned to England to equalize again despite being the team’s best ever, but Saka’s 79th-minute dismissals by Southgate’s Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson for Mason Mount removed his best threats down the right.
But Mount was awarded a decisive penalty after Hernandez recklessly elbowed him in the back inside the penalty area, and Kane had the opportunity to score two penalty goals in one match. However, he curled that ball over the crossbar and the Three Lions ran out key chances to equalize after Marcus Rashford’s free-kick went over the right post.
Most of the stats — shots, shots on goal, possession, assists, passing accuracy, goals expected — went England’s way, but the momentum to find second place to Kane’s goal before Giroud cost the team didn’t improve.
France have now reached their seventh World Cup semi-final, the second time they have achieved this in consecutive tournaments (1982/1986).
For France to reach the final, they will have to beat Morocco, a team of destiny, in the semi-finals on Wednesday, December 14th at 2pm EST, 11am PT.