A scintillating game of international football saw underdogs Morocco crashing out of the World Cup, due to a 2-0 defeat to France. The latter now heads into the final of the tournament, where they will play Argentina. Here’s how France vs Morocco unfolded.
Morocco made two changes to the starting XI that defeated Portugal in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Yahia Attiyat Allah and Selim Amallah were replaced by Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui. However, Aguerd was then swapped out for Achraf Dari just before kick-off.
Mirroring Morocco, France also made two changes to the side that won over England last weekend.
However, these were both forced changes due to illness. Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Raibot were replaced by Youssouf Fofana and Ibrahima Konate.
First half: Big opener for France, Morocco lose their skipper
Morocco became shell-shocked in the first five minutes of the match. This was due to France’s Theo Hernandez opening the scoreline early.
The defender gave his nation an early lead after striking in a Kylian Mbappe rebound ball at close range. The goal is the earliest scored by any side in a World Cup semi-final since 1958.
In the 17th minute, Morocco had their first real chance. Sofiane Boufal shot the ball to Hakim Ziyech, who sent his final touch wide.
However, in the same minute, France countered and came close to going 2-0 up. Giroud sent a screamer that just knocked off the left-hand post.
In the 21st, Walid Regragui made his first substitution of the evening. Captain Romain Saiss was swapped for Amallah. This was because Saiss was struggling to defend due to injury.
Following the substitution, Boufal was the first player to be booked after flooring Hernandez. He earned himself a yellow card in the 27th minute.
A trio of chances then evaded France. Giroud sent a fastball over the top of the Moroccan goal before sending another wide.
Raphael Varane then sent a cross from Antoine Griezmann wide also in the 40th minute.
El Yamiq almost equalised with a sensational overhead kick in the 45th minute. However, despite an additional three minutes of extra time, France vs Morocco ended 1-0 at the break.
Second half: Morocco comes back fighting but subs seal the deal
While Didier Deschamps’ side remained the same, Morocco made one change during half-time. Noussair Mazraoui was withdrawn and replaced by Attiyat Allah. This substitution was made due to injury.
The start of the second half saw Mbappe sending a few on-target blasts. However, the Moroccan defenders were in fine form and managed to stop the superstar from scoring.
In the 54th, Morrocco tried to get back in the game. The ball shot around the French penalty area, with both Boufal and Youssef En-Nesyri having a go. However, both Konate and Varane managed to clear the French line.
After a few failed shots, Giroud was replaced by Marcus Thuram. One minute later, Morocco countered with another trio of changes.
En-Nesyri was changed for Abderrazak Hamdallah and booked Boufal was swapped for Zakaria Aboukhlal. Later, Amallah came off to make way for Abde Ezzalzouli.
Deschamps then made a quick and clever substitution that paid off immediately. He swapped Ousmane Dembele for Randal Kolo Muani.
Less than a minute later, Muani scored his first international goal for France. Some fancy footwork in the Moroccan box from Mbappe set Muani up perfectly. Picking up on a rebounded strike, he slotted the ball in the back of the net.
Muani’s goal is now the second-quickest to be scored by a substitute in a men’s World Cup knockout match.
From the 79th minute, Morocco vs France saw the former dominating the latter’s box. However, all shots were eventually deflected by Les Bleus.
The fourth official indicated that six minutes of added time would be given to the Morocco vs France game. And, although the African side dominated with possession and pass accuracy, time just ran out for them.
What’s next for France?
France now heads into the World Cup final for the fourth time. Interestingly, they’re also the first nation to reach back-to-back World Cup finals since Brazil in 2002.
They will face Argentina, who won their semi-final against Croatia 3-0.Argentina vs France World Cup final match will take place on Sunday 18 December.
What’s next for Morocco?
It’s World Cup heartbreak for Morocco. They bow out of the tournament in the semi-finals and suffer their first loss under head coach Regragui.
However, they will now have to battle Croatia for third and fourth place. Croatia vs Morocco World Cup third-place play-off match will take place on Saturday 17 December.
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