In an initially hushed atmosphere unworthy of a World Cup quarter-final, the Al Bayt stadium suddenly warmed up on Saturday in the second half, despite the few empty seats, par- here, there. An enclosure won over to the cause of the supporters dressed in red and white became a sounding board when Kane crossed his penalty shot to bring his people up to the French, at the start of the second half (53 ‘).
And from a coherent match on both sides for 45 minutes, but not really exciting, the game unbridled, intensified, really transformed into a big quarter-final that France and England brilliantly and magnificently separated, without doubt the two best selections of this World Cup. There will be only one in the semi-finals on Wednesday night to face Morocco in a clash that no one could have imagined a few days ago.
A penultimate step which already promises to be boiling in this same enclosure, at the gates of the desert, where the air is cooler than in Doha. And this country will be France, liberated by its savior Olivier Giroud a quarter of an hour before the end. The striker had until then been transparent, weaned from balloons. But we are not the Blues’ top scorer for nothing and the one who was supposed to go deep was headed by the Grenoble player into the Pickford cages (77′). His 53rd goal in the jersey of the France team.
A wonderful quarter-final
To get there, to get a little closer to the final on Sunday, December 18, English and French had to test themselves. Assessing their real abilities against another title favorite having previously played against four average teams.
Cautious, on the defensive, aware of the opponent’s qualities, none really let go and the shot from Tchouaméni, after a single momentum, which ended in the small net of Pickford (17 ‘) was only a burst in the opposition. And in no way confirmed any tricolor superiority. The 100% European duel kept everyone spellbound, mastered by the Blues for a time, ultra-dominated by the English for another long period. The countless occasions say everything about the drama and the magic of this quarter that wrote its own history, as the Argentines and Dutch the day before will long remember theirs.
Kane misses a second penalty
Before coming back to score, the English had seen Kane and Bellingham come up against a great Lloris (22′, 29′, 47′). After their equaliser, they were unhappy with Maguire finding the outgoing post (70′) and Saka being too short on a cross from Shaw (71′). They were above all disconcerted to see their captain miss a second penalty after a silly foul from Hernandez and an attempt sent into the stands (83′).
A final free kick from Rashford at 90’+9 was to send the last shivers down French backs. He brushed the crossbar. Moment chosen by Didier Deschamps to exult and jump like a kid into the arms of his deputy Guy Stephan. A rare and strong image of a coach who won a lot on Saturday. The image of a captain who saw his crew rock but qualify and then celebrate like never before an evening that brings them a little closer to the double.
letelegramme Fr Trans