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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

France beat Morocco 2-0 to set up World Cup final against Argentina 

The defending champion France beat Morocco 2-0  at Al Bayt Stadium, to set up a mouth-watering World Cup final against Argentina.

France set up a World Cup final against Argentina after goals from Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani secured a 2-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday.

After another efficient performance at Al Bayt Stadium, Didier Deschamps’ team became the first defending champion since Brazil in 1998 to reach the final.

France took the lead in the fifth minute against Africa’s first World Cup semifinalists, even though Morocco dominated much of the game.

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Kolo Muani’s 79th-minute second ensured France’s bid to become only the third side to retain their global crown continued into Sunday’s final against Argentina.

Hernandez fired France into an early lead after Kylian Mbappe twice saw efforts blocked, the second deflection falling to the left-back to expertly finish at the back post.

Olivier Giroud smashed a left-footed strike against Yassine Bounou’s right post before whipping wide from a glorious opportunity after Jawad El Yamiq denied Mbappe with a last-ditch clearance.

El Yamiq almost levelled with a sensational overhead kick from Hakim Ziyech’s corner on the stroke of half-time, only to be denied by a stretching Hugo Lloris and his right post.

Raphael Varane produced a vital intervention to thwart Youssef En-Nesyri after the interval as Deschamps’ men were pinned back, before France sealed victory with 11 minutes remaining.

A deflected Mbappe strike rolled into the path for Kolo Muani, just off the bench, to tap in at the far post as Morocco’s fairytale run came to an end.

France narrowly edged past England in an enthralling quarter-final and were again ruthless against Morocco, recording their fourth straight World Cup semi-final victory (also in 1998, 2006 and 2018).

Walid Regraguis’s Morocco had defeated Belgium, Spain and Portugal en route to the last four after resolute defensive performances, but France proved too great a hurdle.

The final test for Les Bleus awaits in the form of Lionel Messi and Argentina as they aim to join Italy (1938) and Brazil (1962) as the only sides to successfully retain their crown.

What’s next?

On Saturday, Morocco will face Croatia in a third-place play-off at Khalifa International Stadium, while France will face Argentina on Sunday at Lusail Stadium.

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