29/02/2024

France's all-time leading goalscorer Olivier Giroud scored the winner for France. (Image: FIFA World Cup/Twitter)

Following the drama of the first Quarter Final on Sunday morning, much of the talk surrounded the winner of this match and its finals hopes.

Both sides appeared to be in incredibly good form, easing themselves into the Quarter Finals to now face their toughest opponents yet.

Club teammates faced one another, from past and present, welcoming an engaging battle between players who know a lot about each other.

From the outside looking in, one might say that England deserved to win. They had more control of the ball and many more attempts, yet France looked a different beast.

And with that, France were first to strike, through the youngster Aurelien Tchouameni. Real Madrid’s 22-year-old steamed home a pearler from outside of the box, giving France a quick lead.

Despite having the lead, France then found it difficult to hold onto the ball. England were continuing to fight back, holding possession in an attempt to launch a successful attack.

Although it was able to attack, no chances were successful, as England went into the half ahead on every vital statistic, besides the scoreboard.

With a 1-0 lead intact, France were essentially 45 minutes away from qualifying for the Semi Finals. But, only 10 minutes into the second half, England had a chance to claw its way back.

Bukayo Saka darted inside the box, enticing a tackle, which eventually came in the shape of a foul, bringing Harry Kane to the spot.

Kane stepped up and slotted it into his preferred top left corner, restoring parity and giving England hope again. His converted penalty allowed him to equal Wayne Rooney, with the most goals for England on 53.

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The game looked destined for extra time and penalties so early on, as the tempo settled. But as they entered the final 15 minutes, it ramped up to the maximum.

After being on the back-foot for much of the second half, France persisted and prevailed, edging in front yet again. This time through its all-time leading scorer Olivier Giroud.

Antoine Griezmann fizzed the ball into the six-yard box to Giroud, who was surrounded by three English defenders. Somehow he was the only one to connect with the incoming cross, rifling into the back of the net.

The drama didn’t stop there, just as they took control after conceding the first time, England followed suit once again. This time its response was more time-efficient.

Only two minutes later, England had another chance to equalise, from the penalty spot once again. Mason Mount was decked in the box, after just being subbed on. Following a VAR check, the penalty was awarded and Theo Hernandez was cautioned.

Kane stepped up to the spot once again, this time to set him clear of Rooney and give England progression hopes again. But, he’ll have to wait to take that record for himself, as he skied the ball over the bar, wasting a vital opportunity.

Following eight minutes of relentless additional time, England were unable to distinguish the pain of that penalty miss, exiting at the hands of the reigning champions.

France will now progress to the Semi Finals, where it will face Morocco, the only African team to make the final four, putting themselves another step closer to be the third country to go back-to-back at the World Cup.

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