Before securing a spot in Sunday’s final against Argentina, defending champions France were given a tough fight by World Cup wild cards Morocco.
The first African team to go to a World Cup semifinal did not falter in the face of early setbacks, including the injury to crucial defender Nayef Aguerd after he was selected for the starting lineup and behind to Theo Hernandez’s hurried fifth-minute goal.
Despite Morocco’s efforts and spirit, France was more ruthless and substitute By converting Kylian Mbappe’s deflected shot 11 minutes from time at Lusail Stadium on Sunday, Randal Kolo Muani assured they would retain their title against Argentina and Lionel Messi.
Before halftime, Morocco also lost the evidently unfit Romain Saiss to injury, but encouraged by their fervent fans, they came close to tying the score, particularly when Jawad El Yamiq’s overhead strike was stopped by a combination of the post and France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
In the stifling atmosphere of Al Bayt Stadium, France maintained their calm with Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate being the stand out performer. France also had opportunities of their own, with Olivier Giroud hitting the post in the first half.
It was clear that Didier Deschamps’ team was always a threat to score on the break when Muani, who had been lurking, eventually pierced Morocco’s defence late in the game with his first touch 44 seconds after entering the game to score his first goal for France.