The final day of the 2022 men’s World Cup quarter-finals saw two great matches. One had an underdog, Morocco, come out on top; the other saw defending champs, France, win a closely contested match! The two winners set up a semi-final that will be one for the ages this coming week.
World Cup Quarter-finals: Morocco and France on to the semi-finals
Morocco 1 – 0 Portugal
The surprise of the 2022 World Cup has been the strength and resolve of Morocco. They entered a strong group that many thought was the group of death. In that group, they beat Belgium and Canada and drew with eventual semi-finalist Croatia. In the Round of 16, they took Spain all the way to penalties and bested them! In the quarter-finals, they took on a Portugal side that was running rampant in the Round of 16.
Portugal thought they found the secret to success, leaning on their youth, instead of their past. They benched the aging Cristiano Ronaldo in the Round of 16 and proceeded to score six goals against Switzerland. They thought that would pay dividends again as they did the same against Morocco in the Quarter-finals; however, their intended result was not found on that day.
In a match where Portugal has the majority of the ball, it was clear that Morocco wanted to stay organized and hit a perfect counterattack to beat Portugal. The Portuguese did have 12 shots in the game, but only three were on target. Morocco also had three shots on target, but one of theirs went in. At the end of the first half, Morocco scored the eventual winning goal off of a Youssef En-Nesyri header. Portugal tried to rally for 47 minutes but couldn’t beat the staunch defense of Morocco!
Morocco becomes the first African Nation to make the Men’s World Cup semi-finals, while Portugal crashes out, possibly ending the international career of their greatest player ever Cristiano Ronaldo.
England 1 – 2 France
A rivalry for the ages was the final quarter-finals matchup of the 2022 World cup as England and France met for the right to go on to the semi-finals. Both had made the semis in 2018, France was the eventual champions, while England was knocked out by Croatia. In this meeting it was clear that both nations were going to play free-flowing football; it was a joy to watch.
As the game’s first 15 minutes played out, both nations were content and were able to move the ball up the pitch while also stopping the other’s attacks. That changed in the 17th minute. Aurelien Tchouameni hit a screamer that found its way into the net to give France the early lead. They took that lead into halftime, but England was not down and out. 10 minutes after the start of the second half, Bukayo Saka won a penalty for the English, and Harry Kane slotted it home past his club teammate, Hugo Lloris.
As the match went on at 1-1, neither side packed it in to defend for extra time both wanted to win and advance in 90 minutes. In the 78th minute, the French would lead again; Antoine Griezmann sent in a great cross, and it was headed home by Olivier Giroud for his fourth goal of the tournament. The Three Lions roared back winning another penalty in the 84th minute.
This time Lloris guessed correctly to try to stop Kane; at the last minute Kae changed his mind to try to get the ball passed the keeper, but in doing so he leaned back too much and put the ball over the bar. The match would then go on as England pushed and France repelled. In the end France advanced to the World Cup semi-finals while England fell agonizingly short on a day that they felt they were the better team.
France vs Morocco in Semi-finals
In what will be a David vs Goliath matchup, France vs Morocco will be another interesting chapter in men’s World Cup history. Morocco is the first African nation to ever make a World Cup semi-final; France was expected to be here and looks like they have what it takes to repeat as champions of the World. Who will come out on top? Will the Cinderella story continue, or will a pre-tournament favorite make the final?
- Kickoff time: Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2 pm ET
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Mandatory Credit: Florencia Tan Jun/Pximages