January 30, 2023

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FIFA World Cup 2022: France beat Morocco to reach World Cup final

3 min read

France booked their place in the 2022 World Cup final against Argentina after surviving a Morocco onslaught in their semi-final.

With goals from Theo Hernandez and substitute Randal Kolo Muani in either half, the reigning champions are the first side since Brazil in 2002 to reach successive World Cup finals.

If Morocco, hoping to write even more history for African football, had any dreams of reaching the final, they made the worst possible start when Hernandez gave France the early lead.

Jawad El Yamiq naively tried to win the ball in front of Antoine Griezmann. But his failure let the French in, with Hernandez eventually turning it in from an awkward angle after Kylian Mbappe’s initial attempt was blocked – the first goal Morocco had conceded since arriving Qatar.

It marked new territory, but it hardly knocked the stuffing out of them and it wasn’t long after when only a strong left hand from Hugo Lloris denied breakout star Azzedine Ounahi an equaliser.

Hakim Ziyech lacked conviction on his weaker right foot when presented with another chance, although Morocco were quickly saved from going further behind when Olivier Giroud cracked a powerful effort off the outside of the post – the 36-year-old raced clear of a limping Romain Saiss.

Saiss didn’t last much longer and Morocco, having started in a 5-4-1 formation, quickly reverted to the 4-3-3 that had served them so well in the previous rounds.

Morocco grew into it as the first half progressed but France still looked as though they could score at any given moment. El Yamiq had to hook one away near the goal-line from a countering Mbappe, while Giroud then missed the target with a glorious chance following up.

Seemingly determined to make up for his early mistake, El Yamiq almost scored one of the best goals you’ll ever see in the final moments before half-time, with a spectacular overhead kick at a corner brushing Lloris’s fingertips before striking the base of the post.

Morocco had started the first half the stronger and began the second the same way, with wave after wave of attacks coming on the French goal, but without much in the way of genuinely clear chances being created. Les Bleus remained strong and Lloris and the centre-backs in front of him still managed to repel everything that came into the box.

The Atlas Lions were ultimately made to rue not making the most of their pressure, especially in a would-be sliding doors moment when substitute Abderrazak Hamdallah jinked his way through but crucially hesitated as things opened up for him and missed the chance to shoot.

It then wasn’t long before Kolo Muani had put France out of reach in a killer blow. Mbappe, who wasn’t absolutely flying overall, was again involved as he beat several Morocco defenders. As with the first goal it was his deflected shot that made the opportunity and the sub turned it in.

Morocco thought they might have had at least a consolation in stoppage time through Hamdallah, but Jules Kounde was in the right place at the right time to scoop it off the line.

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