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England fall again in last knockout but leave World Cup with pride intact | World Cup 2022


AAt the blistering end of this thrilling World Cup quarter-final, the England players lay slumped on the ground with their hands covering their faces, their hopes and dreams shattered for another four years. All losses hurt. But few will linger as long as this quarter-final loss to France.

For 90 minutes, England faced the world champions. They were bold, they were inventive. And, at times, it looked like all sorts of tantalizing possibilities were opening up after a Harry Kane penalty equalized Aurelien Tchouaméni’s first crush.

But in the last 15 minutes of impossible tension, Oliver Giroud put France ahead 2-1 and then Kane netted a second penalty over the bar. No wonder the England captain was the first to be comforted by England manager Gareth Southgate afterwards.

Ever since England’s lone World Cup triumph in 1966, their results in the Round of 16 have followed a simple, repeating formula: they lose to the first power they face. And so it was this time. But there was no shame in that, given the way they played.

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England World Cup quarter-finals knocked out


Defeat to France in Al Khor means England have lost seven World Cup quarter-finals, reaching all four finals only three times – in 1966, when they lifted the trophy, and in 1990 and 2018.

1954: 4-2 defeat against Uruguay Nat Lofthouse and Tom Finney scored for England but the defending champions punished Gil Merrick’s goalkeeping errors in Switzerland

1958: 3-1 defeat against Brazil Pele’s absence gave England hope in Chile, but Garrincha’s two goals saw the eventual champions through.

1970: 3-2 defeat against West Germany Alf Ramsey’s side let slip a two-goal lead as Gerd Müller scored in extra time to end England’s title defense

1986: 2-1 defeat against Argentina Diego Maradona followed the ‘Hand of God’ with one of the greatest solo goals of all time as Argentina prevailed

2002: 2-1 defeat against Brazil Michael Owen fired England in front but Rivaldo’s leveler and Ronaldinho’s long-range lob turned things around

2006: defeat against Portugal on penalties after a 0-0 draw Wayne Rooney was sent off as England’s golden generation failed

2022: 2-1 defeat against France After missing the last eight in South Africa and Brazil, and overtaking in Russia, England suffer a seventh quarter-final outing against the defending champions.

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Questions had lingered over Southgate’s conservatism in the biggest games, when the stakes are so high even a high roller in Vegas might blink. England had been down to zero against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, and again against Italy in the Euro 2020 final, only to concede ground and, ultimately, the game. Not this time.

It was a sign of his confidence that he kept the same squad of players that beat Senegal in the last 16, lined up in a 4-3-3 formation.

They were cautious at first and fell behind after 17 minutes when Tchouaméni struck a thunderbolt which flew over Jordan Pickford from nearly 30 yards. It was what they deserved. But it also shook England. They knew they had to move on. And their game was much better for it.

Olivier Giroud returns home winner of France.
Olivier Giroud returns home winner of France. Photography: Richard Sellers/Getty Images

As France sat back, England gained confidence. France keeper Hugo Lloris had to be smart to fend off a deflected shot from Kane and England also saw a penalty request denied by VAR when Kane scrambled down the right and appeared to stumble outside of the penalty area.

But at the start of the second half, Tchouaméni drags a leg and knocks Saka down. Kane stepped up, shot hard and wide left, and England were tied at 1-1.

The game opened up, became looser and more irregular. But England still gave at least as well as they had with Saka and Kane forcing Lloris into saves and Maguire leveling the outpost with a header.

As the game entered the final 15 minutes, France found a second wind. They were given ample warning when Giroud fired too close to Pickford from eight yards. Moments later, the attacker smashed the house.

At that time, England had 12 minutes to save their World Cup. Yet almost immediately they were given a reprieve when Lucas Hernandez unnecessarily burst into Mason Mount and VAR rightly ruled it was a penalty. Had he scored, Kane would not only have leveled the game at 2-2, but would have become the England national team’s only all-time goalscorer.

This time, however, Kane couldn’t keep his composure and jumped over the bar.

Harry Kane

French eyes are now on Morocco, whose manager Walid Regragui has compared his side to Rocky Balboa after upsetting Portugal 1-0. “I think we are becoming the team that everyone loves in this World Cup because we are showing the world that you can succeed even if you don’t have so much talent, so much quality, so much money,” did he declare.

This run here in Qatar is all the more remarkable as they were among the underdogs at the start of the tournament, while Regragui has only been in charge since August.

England, meanwhile, will have to pick up the pieces. It will be small consolation that they pushed the world champions all the way.



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