World Cup semi-final as it happened: France end Morocco’s hopes

Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani on target as French book place to play Argentina in final


Full-time: France 2 Morocco 0

France will play Argentina in the World Cup final! Strong defensive performance by France, the two centre-backs outstanding - Konaté and Varane, Aurélien Tchouaméni offering great protection in midfield. They took their chances. An early goal for Theo Hernandez forced Morocco to change their strategy and they gave it a great effort, hitting the post and having some other chances. But ultimately France were too strong and were deserving winners.

Messi v Mbappé, a third World Cup for either Argentina or France. Either Messi’s first or France become the first team to win back-to-back World Cups since Brazil in 1962. So much at stake. That final is on 3pm on Sunday, don’t miss it.

Here are the goals again:

That’s all from me for tonight. Stay tuned for Gavin Cummiskey’s match report, Ken Early’s analysis and TV View from Mary Hannigan.


94 mins: Chance for Morocco! Superb run down the byline, but Kounde with an important clearance from Ounahi’s shot.


92 mins: Mbappé with some beautiful dribbling but Hakimi catches him one last time. He’s had a good game on him for the most part.


85 mins: A deflated Morocco now, who have played admirably but just been caught out on a few occasions and now it’s an uphill battle to keep their dreams alive.


80 mins: GOAL FOR FRANCE! Dembélé off for Kolo Muani and he scores immediately. Lovely dribbling by Mbappé who came alive as he weaves his way through the defence. His shot is blocked but fortunately falls for Kolo Muani with one of his first touches of the game.


77 mins: A chance to get past them though as Tchouameni is dispossessed not far from his own box but Hamdallah shimmies and dummies and tries to get a shot away in the box but he can’t and it’s away.


75 mins: France counter, Thuram runs down the wing and plays to Fofana but he swings it wide. Morocco come forward and Konaté and Varane with two more outstanding interceptions. Nothing getting past those two today.


72 mins: Thuram is taken out by Dari again, who seems immune to cards. Griezmann’s free kick comes to Thuram who wins the header but can’t get good contact on it and misses the target.


69 mins: Great block by Morocco from a Mbappé shot after Koundé dummied the defender well and played him in. Dembélé goes on a mazy run but cut out.


66 mins: Off comes Giroud, who had been very poor tonight, for Marcus Thuram. En-Nesyri and Boufal off for Morocco for Hamdallah and Aboukhlal.


63 mins: Few hefty tackles from both teams, Griezmann the latest to go down from one. Morocco with a good spell of possession. Boufal beats his man and runs down the line but the cross is cut out. Ziyech puts in a dangerous cross but Varane heads away, he’s had a strong game so far.


58 mins: Another attack down the right for Morocco, half a chance but they just can’t control it. Mbappé getting a few big hits this half, he’s down again.


55 mins: A few chances for Morocco, ball almost comes to Attiyat Allah but cleared. Then Attiyat Allah again, but En Nesyri can’t get to it either time. Expertly defended by Varane and Konaté respectively. Lively spell for Morocco though.


51 mins: Yahia Attiyat Allah came on for Mazraoui at half time. Morocco getting a bit of joy down the right sideside but it leaves them open to Mbappé who runs at blistering pace down the sideline. Amrabat tackles him and referee says no foul, even though he’s clearly caught. Mbappé down getting treatment.


48 mins: Mbappé with a thrilling run down the left wing but he overhits his cross and comes to nobody. Strong start to the half by France. Griezmann then plays through Mbappé through the middle but Hakimi and Bono in goal do enough and Bono gets hit with the follow through.


HALF-TIME: France 1 Morocco 0

France lead at the break then, the early goal from Theo Hernandez for the French meant that the game opened up more than expected. Plenty of chances for both teams, Giroud and El Yamiq both hitting the post. Could have been a lot worse for Morocco, lots to play for in the second half. Here’s the goal again.


48 mins: Another corner for Morocco, Lloris claims though, three minutes of stoppage time. Ziyech has two free kicks from dangerous areas but Lloris punches away well with one, and the other just misses Amrabat.


44 mins: Off the post for Morocco! Ounahi plays in Hakimi in the box but a great tackle by Konaté. Ziyech’s corner falls to El Yamiq with an overheard kick which is saved by Lloris onto the post. That would have been an incredible goal!


40 mins: Griezmann gets in behind but a good tackle by El Yamiq. Griezmann with a good corner to the front post but Varane misses with a low volley on the front post.


37 mins: Giroud misses another good chance! Tchouameni breaks through brilliantly and plays in Mbappé who plays across goal, it’s blocked but Tchouameni wins it again and passes to Giroud unmarked in front of goal but he hits it wide. Tchouameni dominating the midfield.


35 mins: Mbappé finally gets a run at the defence and lays it off but Giroud blocks his own player’s shot. Dari with a bad tackle on Hernandez that wasn’t spotted, but France attack again. The corner falls to Fofana who can’t get his foot around it and goes well over.


31 mins: Amallah with clever footwork to release Ounahi. Ziyech recycles to the other side of the pitch, Mazraoui offside though.


27 mins: A few niggly fouls in a row but the referee trying to let it flow. Finally a yellow card, this time for Boufal for a foul on Hernandez, who gets treatment.


25 mins: Both first choice centre backs missing through injury is a big shame for Morocco but they’ll keep perservering. France not afraid to target the Moroccan defence with some longer balls, the early goal meaning Morocco can’t sit back like previous games.


21 mins: Griezmann and Mbappé combine but El Yamiq is fouled. Unfortunately for Morocco, their captain Saiss has to be substituted through injury, which showed in that last Giroud chance. Amallah is on, a midfielder, which suggests a change of shape.


17 mins: Off the post! Long ball and more poor defending by Morocco, Saiss this time, as it bounces straight through to Giroud and he hits front post but bangs off the woodwork.


16 mins: Free-kick to Morocco and Ziyech delivers but well dealt with by Konaté. Dembélé runs at the defence and France back in possession. Mbappé getting no space at all, with Hakimi on his case. Boufal runs at the French defence but Ziyech can’t get a good shot away.


11 mins: Chance for Morocco! Ounahi with a great curling long shot that forces a good save out of Lloris. Boufal seemed fouled by Tchouaméni but referee waves it on.


9 mins: El Yamiq caught out badly. The loss of Aguerd in the build-up could prove costly. Morocco look a bit nervous, as Ziyech loses the ball badly.


6 mins: GOAL FOR FRANCE! Great through ball by Varane catches Morocco out, as Griezmann plays it to Mbappé's whose shot is blocked and falls to Theo Hernandez who finishes smartly. Terrible start for Morocco.


4 mins: Dembélé runs down the wing early but is well dealt with by Morocco, who have a surprising share of the early possession. Fofana tries to break through but the impressively combatative Amrabat sweeps it up.


Conor Pope met some of Ireland’s Moroccans who says what was Ireland in Italia 90 is Morocco in Qatar 2022 and then some. “I think the people of Morocco all believe in this team,” Aziz Khrouch said.

“It is time to show the French what we can do,” he said. ‘We have a long history with them. It is a bit like Ireland versus England. We have something to show them and we know that the whole world will be behind us.”

Now for the anthems...


Hakim Ziyech, a magician at the heart of Moroccan love story, wrote Gavin Cummiskey before they dispatched Portugal and made it to the semi-finals. The World Cup has been brought to life, and Arab and African pride asserted, by the Atlas Lions, whose adventure is far from finished.

“The World Cup is alive, finally. Blaring car horns stun the senses. All Moroccans. Dancing Arabs along the Corniche. All Moroccans. Soft drums colliding as women discard head scarfs. Definitely Moroccans.

“Shisha-puffing Moroccan men, but families too, all delirious, all wearing caped flags. All spine-tinglingly awake, wanting this night to never end.”


Morocco stand in the way of France tonight and are likely to take some budging. The underdogs will be roared on by thousands of supporters at Al Bayt Stadium, where a hostile atmosphere is bound to test the courage of the France players, and they are surely not going to open up now, writes Jacob Steinberg.

Entertaining neutrals is not Morocco’s priority. They have played eight and a half hours of football, faced three penalties in their shoot-out win over Spain and still the only goal they have conceded came when Nayef Aguerd put the ball into his own net against Canada.


Team news:

Adrien Rabiot will miss France’s World Cup semi-final against Morocco through illness. Youssouf Fofana has replaced the Juventus midfielder at Al Bayt Stadium, where Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konaté has come in for Dayot Upamecano – another reportedly dealing with illness. Morocco have been able to call upon Noussair Mazraoui, and Romain Saiss after there had been questions marks over the defensive trio’s fitness. Morocco appear to be going five at the back, with star player Hakimi as wing back.

France: Hugo Lloris, Jules Koundé, Raphael Varane, Ibrahima Konaté, Theo Hernandez, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Youssouf Fofana, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappé

Morocco: Yassine Bounou, Achraf Hakimi, Achraf Dari, Romain Saiss (capt.), Jawad El Yamiq, Noussair Mazraoui, Sofyan Amrabat, Azzedine Ounahi, Hakim Ziyech, Soufiane Boufal, Youssef En-Nesyri


Hello and welcome to live coverage of the World Cup semi-final between France and Morocco at Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar. It’s the first time that an African team have ever reached this stage, as Morocco have sensationally knocked out Belgium, Spain and Portugal to get here, but a formidable France team stands in their way of a place in the final, a team looking to defend the World Cup they won in 2018. Kickoff is at 7pm.