FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: World Cup holders France beat Morocco to set up final with Messi’s Argentina

Randal Kolo Muani’s goal 44 seconds after coming off the bench helped France defeat Morocco 2-0 in the semifinals, securing a meeting with Argentina in the World Cup championship game. Theo Hernandez’s spectacular five-minute goal gave defending champions France the lead, but they had to work hard for their victory. France is attempting to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to win back-to-back World Cups.

Morocco, the first African team to reach a World Cup semi-final after historic victories over Spain and Portugal, was roared on by another partisan crowd at Al Bayt Stadium and put France under heavy pressure, with Jawad El Yamiq striking the post as they fought valiantly despite key player injuries. France, on the other hand, demonstrated their tournament pedigree by defending tenaciously and then seizing their chance to kill the game in the 79th minute when Kolo Muani slid home Kylian Mbappe’s deflected effort at the far post, his first international goal leaving the Moroccans heartbroken.

France beat Morocco to set up final with Messi’s Argentina

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 World Cup holders France beat Morocco to set up final with Messi’s Argentina-1

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France now faces Argentina, who beat Croatia 3-0 in the other semi-final, in Sunday’s final as they seek to defend their crown in a contest that pits Mbappe against Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Lionel Messi, while Morocco has to settle for a third-place play-off to conclude their outstanding tournament. Morocco boss Walid Regragui had opted to switch to a back five to contain France’s considerable attacking threat but his plans were immediately disrupted when center-back Nayef Aguerd, listed as a starter having missed the win over Portugal through injury, was forced to withdraw before kick-off.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 World Cup holders France beat Morocco to set up final with Messi’s Argentina-3

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France quickly capitalized on the upheaval, with the excellent Antoine Griezmann creating an early goal after an El Yamik error allowed him to cut the ball back for Mbappe, whose shot was blocked before falling to Hernandez to convert. Hernandez’s well-placed strike made him the first opponent to score against Morocco, which had kept four clean sheets in the previous five games of the tournament, and the Atlas Lions sought an immediate response at the other end.

Hugo Lloris saved a long-range effort from Azzedine Ounahi, and Hakim Ziyech dragged another wide, but France then went close when Olivier Giroud fired against the post from Ibrahima Konate’s long pass. Morocco was dealt another blow following Giroud’s opportunity when Romain Saiss, Aguerd’s usual center-back partner and another injury doubt before the game, was forced to leave the field. Morocco, on the other hand, continued to pose problems for France, particularly down the right flank, where Hernandez was frequently exposed by Mbappe’s advanced positioning, leaving him struggling to deal with the dual threat of Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi.

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France will face Messi’s Argentina in the Final

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 World Cup holders France beat Morocco to set up final with Messi’s Argentina-2

Also Read: Morocco books historic World Cup semi-final place as En-Nesyri stuns Portugal

Morocco had a penalty appeal waved away, with Sofiane Boufal deemed to have fouled Hernandez rather than the other way around, but France continued to threaten at the other end, with the early goal forcing Morocco to take more risks. Aurelien Tchouameni, who scored France’s first goal against England, set up two chances for Mbappe and Giroud in quick succession, but it was Morocco who came closest before the break, with El Yamiq’s overhead kick coming back off the post following a corner.

Regragui’s team finished the first half strongly and continued where they left off in the second, pinning France back and dominating possession for the first time in the tournament, but their opponents proved difficult to break down. Konate was especially impressive after starting in place of Dayot Upamecano, who was ruled out due to illness, as was Adrien Rabiot, and France was also helped at times by Morocco’s lack of ruthlessness in the box.

Also Read: France beats England to advance to World Cup semifinals

At one point, substitute Abderrazak Hamdallah appeared to be on his way to scoring but took too long to get his shot off, with France’s second goal coming not long after as Kolo Muani, who had just replaced Ousmane Dembele and was only called up to the squad due to a late injury to Christopher Nkunku, sparked wild celebrations. Morocco fought on, with the brilliant Ounahi firing over in stoppage time, then seeing a deflected effort fall to Hamdallah, who failed to capitalize once more, but it proved too much for the Atlas Lions, who can be proud of their efforts nonetheless.

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