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England out of World Cup after Harry Kane’s missed penalty against France | World Cup 2022

Everyone would have bet the house on Harry Kane. The England captain had already scored an equalizer from the penalty spot, which took him level with Wayne Rooney on 53 goals for his country – the all-time record. Now, with that World Cup thriller back in France’s control, Olivier Giroud’s header having put them 2-1 ahead, Kane has once again taken the upper hand.

The penalty was conceded by Theo Hernandez. It was an extraordinary rush of blood from the full-back, which erupted into the back of England substitute Mason Mount as they chased a high ball that passed through them both. But an even bigger one was to come.

Kane had the absolute record within reach. More importantly, he could rekindle England’s confidence, paving the way for extra time – and, perhaps, a semi-final against Morocco. Still, Kane slumped, exploding the kick over the crossbar. It was the 84th minute. And that was pretty much it.

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England out of World Cup after Harry Kane's missed penalty against France | World Cup 2022

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There would be no late sting and, for the umpteenth time, England had to ponder a bitter tale of bad luck. It was meant to be the night it all came together against the world champions, with mentality aligning with quality, lessons from the past helping England to a famous victory. This does not happen.

The focus will be on what Gareth Southgate does next. Will he continue in a fourth tournament campaign? More immediately and more painfully for him and for the country was the defeat. England equaled France for long periods. They were refused several times by Hugo Lloris on the occasion of his record 143rd selection. And, at the very end, Marcus Rashford narrowly missed the target on a free kick. Kane looked broken full time. Everyone in the colors of England too.

France had first let themselves go at the forefront, working their schemes with a lot of finesse.

Antoine Griezmann was prominent, acting as a third midfielder from the right, drifting in the No.10 role. Drifting everywhere, really. The collective insurance of France in possession is pronounced. Griezmann was exceptional.

Olivier Giroud celebrates after his header put France in front.
Olivier Giroud celebrates after his header put France in front. Photography: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

England hadn’t been behind in the tournament, hadn’t experienced a real setback before. Southgate and his coaches had discussed how they would respond, what processes to follow. They had to put them into action after the first breakthrough of Aurélien Tchouaméni, which seemed announced. Giroud had nearly entered for a header in the 11th minute.

Kylian Mbappé beamed with menace. Every time he got close to the ball, England worried. They had men around him in the 17th minute – quickly – but he blew it inside and France worked it on the right then inside, Griezmann finally laid off for Tchouaméni, who shot from long range with a vicious deflection.

Harry Kane

Jordan Pickford had plenty of time to see him. As he headed for his right corner, he pounced on it. It was complete but it was not enough. It would be a sinking feeling for him and England.

Dayot Upamecano had started the move with a challenge on Bukayo Saka which England had insisted was a foul. The Brazilian referee, Wilton Sampaio, said no.

England remained calm and Kane led the fight back, engaging in a few physical duels with Upamecano and winning them. Kane smartly rolled the center half after a pass from Saka into him and he had a chance from an angle on the right. Lloris was smart to block.

There was also the moment in the 25th minute when Kane pulled away from Upamecano again and headed for the right edge of the box. He felt his marker pull his legs away from him when he walked in, but neither Sampaio nor VAR were moved by the penalty request.

Luke Shaw had hit a free kick for Lloris before the goalkeeper collected a deflected effort from Kane from range. From the corner, there was an all-powerful stampede but France got clear.

England harbored a grievance against Sampaio, who seemed to be guessing at times, but they retained their focus and punch when the second half resumed. It was an impressive display of character, of confidence in their approach, and they deserved the equaliser.

Jude Bellingham blasted a shot from the edge of the area after a half-cleared corner that Lloris overturned – another good save – and Saka started to make his mark, all quicksilver movement down the right.

It was Saka who won the first penalty after a round trip with Bellingham, Tchouaméni stretching for the tackle but coming in too late. Saka was too fast. Mbappé had a rather showy word with Lloris as Kane prepared, trying to scare the England captain. It was never going to work.

It’s been set up for a classic now; for a hero to emerge. Adrien Rabiot almost restored France’s lead straight away – Southgate frantically pointing to his temples – and there was the running race between Mbappé and Kyle Walker that everyone wanted to see. The French striker prevailed, finding an extra report at the end, to push back Ousmane Dembélé, who could not react.

England had to try their luck. They continued to threaten. Harry Maguire kissed the outside of a post with a header from Jordan Henderson’s free-kick; Saka was unable to convert from a Shaw cross. It was so close.

At the time, it looked like England were the likeliest mark of the next goal. France had other ideas. Giroud should have scored from a backhand header from Dembélé – Pickford saved well – then he found the net thanks to Griezmann’s wonderful delivery, getting between John Stones and Maguire to head home. Kane had the chance to write a different story. Instead, there was only misery for him and England.


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