England out after Kane’s spot-kick agony

England v France – FIFA World Cup Quarter Final – Al Bayt Stadium – Report

England 1-2 France

England’s World Cup campaign once again ended in disappointment as despite matching defending holders France throughout in an emotion-charged encounter at the Al Bayt Stadium, Harry Kane’s late penalty miss proved decisive as Les Bleus advanced to the semi-final (their seventh overall) where they will play Morocco, at the Al Bayat Stadium once again, next Wednesday.

Gareth Southgate and his French counterpart Didier Deschamps both announced unchanged sides from the teams that beat Senegal 3-0 and Poland 3-1 respectively in their Round of 16 matches.

France dominated the early exchanges and looked dangerous down the flanks, the first chance of the match came in the eleventh minute when Ousmane Dembélé crossed from the right, only for AC Milan striker Oliver Giroud to steer his header straight at Jordan Pickford.

Just six minutes later however France took the lead, although with Bakayo Saka being clattered in possession by Dayot Upamecano, it will now become World Cup folklore and a certain matter of some contention for years to come, that Brazilian referee Wilton Perreira Sampaio should have awarded a free kick for what appeared to be a clear foul on the Arsenal youngster. Choosing to ignore the English protests, however, he allowed the French to break and move the ball forward at pace before the outstanding Antoine Griezmann found Aurelien Tchouameni in space outside the area to smash a twenty-five-yard piledriver through Jude Bellingham’s legs and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net to put them 1-0 up. 

Just before the half-hour mark, England had a good shout for a penalty turned down when Kane was upended on the edge of the box by Upamecano, however, VAR confirmed the referee’s original decision as correct with the award of a free kick just outside the area.

Kane came close to pulling one back for the Three Lions just minutes later when after receiving the ball from Declan Rice, his deflected shot from distance forced Spurs clubmate Hugo Lloris into a fine save to his left as he pushed the ball away for a corner.

Adrien Rabiot on the left, pulled the ball back for Kylian Mbappe to blaze high over the bar shortly before half-time as the French went in at the break having been worthy of their 1-0 lead.

Just two minutes after the restart, Jude Bellingham’s fierce shot from outside the area forced Lloris into an acrobatic fingertip save and with England appearing to have settled the better of the two sides in the second half and creating chances, they were awarded a penalty when Saka’s jinking run was ended after he was brought down just inside the box by Tchouameni. Kane drilled the spot kick past Lloris into the bottom left-hand corner for the equaliser – his fifty-third goal for his country, a total that now sees him draw level with Wayne Rooney as England’s highest all-time international goal scorer.

With Saka looking dangerous throughout and with most of England’s attacking threat being instigated by him, the Three Lions were looking by far the better side as the half progressed and Harry Maguire went close when he got on the end of Jordan Henderson’s free-kick, only to see his header shave the post. Just minutes later, Luke Shaw beat his man to put a cross over for Saka to agonisingly shoot inches past the upright.

With France continuing to press forward, Pickford pulled off a wonder save to deny Giroud’s sliced volley in front of goal only to then be beaten just a minute later when Griessman’s pinpoint cross found Giroud again for him to head powerfully past the Everton keeper to restore the French lead and make it 2-1.

With time running out, Southgate replaced Henderson and Saka with Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling and just minutes afterwards, Mount was barged off the ball in the area by Hernandez and following the VAR review, referee Wilton Sampaio awarded England their second penalty of the match. 

Once again Kane stepped forward, only to this time blazed his spot-kick high over the bar.

Substitute Marcus Rashford went close when his free kick flew just inches over the bar at the end of stoppage time, but in truth, any real hopes of getting back into the game were long gone following dramatic Kane’s penalty miss. It was a sad way for England to have to depart the competition having not only matched the World Champions but for prolonged periods of the game, outplayed them too.

England can be proud of all they have achieved during their time in Qatar and will certainly go home with their heads held high. 

France on the other hand, now look forward to their semi-final against Morocco with great expectation of being the first country since Brazil (in 1958 and 1962) to win back-to-back World Cups. 

England: Pickford, Walker, Stones (Grealish 90+8′) Maguire, Shaw, Henderson (Mount 79′) Rice, Bellingham, Saka (Sterling 79′) Kane, Foden (Rashford 85′) Subs not used: Trippier, Pope, Phillips, Dier, Coady, Alexander-Arnold, Mount, Ramsdale, Wilson, Maddison, Gallagher

France: Lloris, Koundé, Varane, Upamecano, Hernández, Tchouaméni, Rabiot, Dembélé (Coman 79′) Griezmann, Mbappé, Giroud Subs not used: Pavard, Disasi, Guendouzi, Kolo Muani, Fofana, Veretout, Mandanda, Saliba, Aréola, Konaté, Camavinga, Thuram

Referee: Relton Sampaio 

Assistants: Bruno Boschilia and Bruno Pires 

Fourth Official: Mohammed Abdulla 

Attendance: 68,895