France defeated Morocco 2-0 in the World Cup semifinals at the Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday night, ending the African side’s magical run in Qatar.
Theo Hernandez’s early goal and a late tap-in from substitute Randal Kolo Muani gave reigning champions France a hard-fought win over a brave Morocco team that made African World Cup history at the 2022 event.
Didier Deschamps’ team will now play Argentina, who defeated Croatia 3-0 on Tuesday, in the World Cup final, as the two heavyweights meet for the first time.
Within five minutes, France dashed Moroccan aspirations with a scramble in the penalty area that saw the ball fall to Hernandez, who met it at the back post and hammered a volley past Yassine Bounou. Olivier Giroud hit the post in the first half and missed from close range after Aurelien Tchouameni’s barnstorming run through the middle.
Conversely, Morocco was never overawed and had the chance, as Azzedine Ounahi forced two superb saves from French captain Hugo Lloris with speculative tries. Curling set pieces placed pressure on the French defense.
The north Africans were rocked hard by injuries to their significant center-backs, with the gamble of starting Nayef Aguero failing to pay off after he injured his hamstring in the warm-up and skipper Romain Saiss being forced to leave after 20 minutes.
At the end of the first half, Jawad El Yamiq’s spectacular overhead kick nearly brought Morocco level. Still, Lloris only palmed the ball away from danger as France maintained their 1-0 advantage.
Morocco came out firing after the interval, and Yahya Attiat-Allah missed a fantastic opportunity to equalize as Morocco dominated much of the first 10 minutes of the second half on France’s defensive end of the field.
France became the first defending champions to reach consecutive finals since Brazil in 2002, and they hope to become the first team in 60 years and the third team in history to win the World Cup in consecutive tournaments.
Lineups of Morocco and France
France (4-3-3): Lloris; Kounde, Varane, Konaté, T. Hernandez; Tchameni, Fofana; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud
Morocco (4-3-3): Bounou; Hakimi, El Yamiq, Aguerd, Mazraoui; Ounahi, Amrabat, Saiss; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal