France vs Morocco Football Match Report – 14th December 2022

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

An early goal from Theo Hernandez and a late effort from substitute Randal Kolo Muani gave holders France a hard-fought win over a brave Moroccan side who made African World Cup history at the 2022 tournament.

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

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

France threw cold water on hopes of another Moroccan miracle within five minutes when a scramble in the box dropped the ball onto Hernandez, who hit it at the back post and hammered a volley past Yassine Bounou.

“Playing two World Cup finals in a row is an amazing moment. We did a good job, it was tough, but we’re in the final. We’ll work hard to win that final,” said Hernandez.

Olivier Giroud hit the post and missed from close range in the first half at the end of a rush through the middle by Aurelien Tchouameni.

But Morocco were never intimidated and had the opportunity when Azzedine Ounahi lured two good saves from French captain Hugo Lloris with speculative efforts and set pieces put pressure on the French defence.

The North Africans were hit hard by injuries to their key centre-backs, with the gamble of calling up Nayef Aguerd in the starting XI not working out as he injured a hamstring during warm-up and skipper Romain Saiss was forced to leave the field after 20 minutes.

Jawad El Yamiq’s daring overhead kick nearly equalized Morocco at the end of the first half, but Lloris hammered the ball just out of harm’s way as France defended their 1-0 lead.

Morocco took a clear lead after the break and Yahya Attiat-Allah missed a golden opportunity to equalize as they spent much of the first 10 minutes of the second half in the French defence.

Kylian Mbappe’s labyrinthine run through tight spaces in the Moroccan box resulted in France’s second goal after the PSG star’s half-shot dribbled towards goal and Kolo Muani doubled the lead with the third-fastest goal by a substitute in World Cup history Les Bleus booked a return to the final.

Moroccan coach Walid Regragui led the Atlas Lions to an unlikely run in Qatar, guiding a group win, a round of 16 win over Spain and a win over Portugal that made them the first African side to reach the semi-finals before eventually losing to France.

“We gave the maximum, that’s the most important thing,” said Regragui. “We had some injuries, we lost Aguerd in warm-up, Saiss at half-time. We paid for the smallest mistake. We didn’t start the game well, we had too much technical waste in the first half and that second goal kills us. But that doesn’t take away from everything we’ve done before.”

France beat Argentina 4-3 at the 2018 World Cup in Russia La Albiceleste hold the previous head-to-head record with six wins, three draws and three losses in 12 matches.

France became the first defending champions to reach a consecutive finals since Brazil in 2002 and could become the first team in 60 years and the third team ever to retain the World Cup crown in consecutive tournaments.

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

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

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

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