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France beat England to set up Morocco semi-final

Olivier Giroud scored the winner and Harry Kane missed a late penalty as holders France beat England 2-1 in a tense World Cup quarter-final on Saturday.

Aurelien Tchouameni had swept France into a first-half lead only for Kane to equalise from the spot nine minutes into the second half.

England were the better side for long stretches of the game at Al Bayt Stadium but, almost from nowhere, France went back in front when Giroud headed home with 11 minutes left.

Kane than blazed his second penalty of the game over the bar as England’s wait to win a first major international trophy in men’s football since the 1966 World Cup goes on.

France though remain on course to become the first side since Brazil 60 years ago to successfully defend the World Cup.

With Brazil having been eliminated on Friday and England dealt with here in the desert north of Doha, France are now surely the favourites to retain their crown as they prepare to face Morocco in the semi-finals.

This, remarkably, was the first meeting of these two great rivals in a major tournament knockout game, with Croatia’s victory in extra time preventing England from joining France in the final four years ago.

England had found their stride after a sluggish start in the last-16 win over Senegal and it was no surprise to see Southgate name an unchanged side, with Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden either side of Kane in attack.

That meant he resisted any temptation to revert to a back five in an attempt to counter the threat posed by Kylian Mbappe, the tournament’s top scorer with five goals.

There is no shortage of goal threats in the French side but few could have predicted that the opener would come from Tchouameni, the midfielder who is just 22 and had scored only once for his country before this game.

There was a touch of controversy to the goal, as it came from a France break which started with what looked like a foul by Dayot Upamecano on Saka.

Brazilian referee Wilton Sampaio waved play on, and Mbappe cut inside from the left before Ousmane Dembele and Griezmann combined to set up Tchouameni to hit a superb shot from 25 metres that curled away from Jordan Pickford and into the corner.

France had looked the more dangerous team before that, but England grew into the contest after falling behind.