Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2022. 3:27 pm CST.
Photo Credit: FIFA
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: France will play the FIFA World Cup Final on Sunday against Argentina after blanking Morocco 2-0 in a super Semifinal match in front of 68,294 screaming fans at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar.
Randal Kolo Muani, who had just entered 41 seconds earlier, converted on his first touch off a pass by Kylian Mbappé in the 79th minute to give France the definitive 2-0 lead.
France had been in a defensive mode after taking the lead in the 5th minute on a superb goal by Theo Hernandez.
Morocco were playing a superb game but were well aware that their push gave France space to run up the wings. The French could be deadly with their speed and good ball control.
Mbappé had constantly been pushing up the left wing, but when Olivier Giroud was substituted in the 65th minute, he was delegated a more central role. However, in the play that led to the goal, Mbappé again moved from the left making the pass for Kolo Muani who just had to tap it in for the 2-0 lead securing the ticket to play Argentina in the Final.
Before the game many experts had expressed doubts about France being able to penetrate and break up the Morocco defense, which had just allowed one goal (an own goal) during regulation time in the entire tournament. France did so in just 5 minutes as they took the lead in spectacular fashion.
After a play between Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann, Mbappé had to beat the entire defense making a pass to the left to Theo Hernandez who lifted his left leg as high as he could blasting the ball past goalkeeper Yosine Bounou for the 1-0 French lead.
Griezmann and Aurelien Tchouameni controlled the halfway line for France providing opportunities for Mbappé, Giroud, and Ousmane Dembele. Hernandez kept pushing forward on the left-wing providing support as in the goal he scored.
Plan A didn’t work for Morocco as France unravelled their defensive mesh with the Hernandez 5th-minute goal, so they abandoned their defensive stance and pushed forward. Though they didn’t get a goal, they proved they could play toe to toe against France. They just need a killer in the box.
Despite the Moroccan push forward, it was France, who play a deadly counterattacking game, with the better opportunities. Giroud slammed the ball against the post in the 17th minute.
Morocco made their first change in the 21st minute. Injured captain Romain Saiss was substituted by Selim Amallah.
Mbappé and Giroud missed after a good run by Tchouameni making the Moroccan defence look bad.
Morocco kept pushing forward and had two good breaks towards the end of the first half, the main break coming from a spectacular bicycle kick by Jawaq El Jamiq in the 44th minute. French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris managed to palm it at the base of the left post.
France started the second half pushing, particularly on the left wing with Mbappé penetrating constantly. He was fouled in the 51st and had to be treated by the medical team.
Morocco broke through on the right wing and then on the right in the 53rd but couldn’t finish the plays as the French defenders managed to smother the double-combed attack.
And so it would play out until the Kolo Muani goal. But that didn’t daunt the Moroccans as they kept pushing forward and had a good break towards the end but again they just couldn’t get it into the net.
In the end, France will get the break to gain a second consecutive World Cup trophy against Argentina led by Lionel Messi on Sunday.
Morocco will take on Croatia on Saturday for Third Place.
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