FOOTBALL – The last of the 2022 FIFA World Cup quarter-final matches saw Portugal lose to Morocco, and England crash out in their controversial game against France. Tonight will see the first of the semi-finals in the countdown to the ultimate game in Qatar on Sunday December 18.
Morocco v Portugal
The quarter-final match between Morocco and Portugal was played on Saturday. Portugal started the game as favourites, however, Morocco had also knocked out Spain.
The game started with plenty of action for both sides. However, it seemed to settle after the first 15 minutes into a somewhat scrappy affair, although En-Nesyri was always close to threatening. Heading into the final third of the first half, and Portugal appeared to have the upper hand. But there was still no goal to show for the efforts.
Then, a few minutes before half time, En-Nesyri pulled it off, and headed the ball into the back of the net. It was 1-0 for Morocco. During stoppage time, Fernandes of Portugal went down and claimed for a penalty. However, the referee waved play on, and the first half remained 1-0.
The second half continued with both sides putting up a strong fight. Neither looked to be backing down. Joao Felix looked set to even the score in the 83rd minute, but Bounou miraculously got a glove to it and sent it away.
As the minutes ticked away, the excitement from the Moroccan fans was intense. Three minutes into stoppage time, and Cheddira was sent off for a bad challenge on Joao Felix. Nine minutes were added, and each minute was frantic. Morocco held on, and Portugal failed to get a goal. Morocco were going through to the semi-finals. The first African team in history to do so.
England v France
Both sides started well but France seemed to have a slight edge. This was confirmed when the first goal came after just 17 minutes. A counter-attack from France saw Mbappe take on and win the challenge from Rice as he switched and passed to Griezmann on the right who then slipped it to Tchouaméni. The midfielder took his chance and fired it through the legs of Bellingham, and into the bottom corner of the net. It was 0-1 for France.
Just before the goal, the England players were claiming for a foul on Saka at the other end of the pitch. The referee waved play on, after VAR did not agree a foul.
England upped their game, but then Kane went down in the box when he was pulled back by Upamecano, and their legs tangled as he fell. VAR denied the penalty.
Shortly after, Kane had another attempt at goal, but missed.
Upamecano was in action once again, as this time he toppled Saka as he was running towards the box. A free kick was not awarded despite protests from the English side.
The first half ended with France leading by one goal to nil.
Under 10 minutes into the second half, and a penalty was awarded to England. Saka was clipped by Tchouameni, and the referee pointed to the spot.
Harry Kane stepped up, sent Lloris to the right, as he aimed and scored to the left. It was the equaliser England had been waiting for. From this point, the England squad gained in confidence as they created more chances.
After 74 minutes, England were again asking for a penalty after Upamecano made a clumsy tackle on Bellingham. But the referee decided it was not enough for a foul.
A few minutes later, assisted once more by Griezmann, this time it was the turn of Giroud to score for the French. England now needed to pull at least one back to remain in with a chance.
Then, with 81 minutes on the clock. England are awarded a penalty after a VAR review. Hernández had pushed Mount which prevented him from progressing with the ball. Hernández earned a yellow card for his actions.
Harry Kane stepped up again, but missed. As the game continued into 11 minutes of stoppage time, England continued to battle for that goal. A chance came for Rashford in the final seconds, but the ball landed on the roof of the net.
The controversial game ended 1-2 and England were going home.
Argentina v Croatia
The winners of the first quarter-finals will play against each other tonight. Croatia take on Argentina at 8.00 pm at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar. This will be the third World Cup meeting between the 2 sides. The first was in 1998 when Argentina won 1-0, and the second was 20 year later, in 2018 when Croatia won 3-0.
France v Morocco
The second semi-final will take place tomorrow also at 8.00 pm but at the Al Bayt Stadium. This time, Morocco will face France. Morocco have not conceded a goal (with the exception of an own-goal against Canada) so far in this World Cup series.
The play-off for third place will be on Saturday December 17 at 4.00 pm.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup Final
The final of the Qatar World Cup will take place on Sunday December 18 at 4.00 pm.
Also read: Where to watch the final World Cup matches