February 4, 2023

On Saturday night, England suffered a 2-1 loss to defending champions France, exiting the World Cup in the quarterfinals.

This would be a “50-50 game,” according to Steve Holland, Gareth Southgate‘s assistant. It turned out to be a forewarning about the small margin between the teams and Harry Kane’s success rate from the penalty spot.

Both before and after the break, France took the lead before giving England a 12-yard window to tie the score. Although the Three Lions put on an impressive performance for long stretches of time, Kane’s second penalty attempt, which he uncharacteristically blazed over, forced a premature exit for the team. Kane confidently converted his first spot kick shortly after the half.

In the 17th minute, Dayot Upamecano robbed Bukayo Saka and led a charge downfield. England defenders hurriedly retreated while frantically attempting to surround Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe.

In the midst of the chaos, Antoine Griezmann rolled a pass to Tchouameni with enough time and space for him to let loose from 26 meters away, whizzing the ball between Jude Bellingham’s legs and into the bottom corner. Griezmann was in the mood to spot gaps difficult to see from a bird’s eye view.

When England found itself trailing for the first time in this World Cup, they responded well. Midway through the first half, Harry Kane pinned Upamecano twice quickly as he was spinning toward goal.

Hugo Lloris made a smothering save to deny England’s captain before Upamecano tangled with Kane just inside the penalty box and the play stood after a VAR review.

The threat posed by the world champions in transition persisted throughout the game, but England was the team that put France under pressure. Jordan Pickford was much less active than Lloris, who deflected a fizzing attempt from Bellingham before the Tottenham teammate was face-to-face with him from 12 yards away.

Ten minutes after the game resumed, Saka wriggled into the French box and edged cautiously around it until Tchouameni extended a lax leg. Kane took the penalty, had to take it again because his kick was delayed, and then blasted it into the top corner.

Prior to the game, the French team emphasized the significance of set pieces and praised England’s threat from this area. Harry Maguire came dangerously close to confirming those worries, but his header just missed the post’s edge. Olivier Giroud gave him a quick tutorial on how to do it.

After picking off Giroud’s point-blank volley, Pickford was helpless to stop the 36-year- old’s header, which was powered in by Griezmann’s deft delivery from the second phase of a corner kick in the 78th minute.

For the first time, Southgate was prompted to turn to his bench, putting on Mason Mount. The Chelsea attacker secured England’s second spot kick of the night before even touching the ball, sprinting into the area and luring Theo Hernandez into a reckless tackle.

Kane tied Wayne Rooney’s international goal record with his first penalty, but he couldn’t break it with his second effort from 12 yards. As Kane’s kick continued to climb into the air conditioned air, England’s chances of advancing dwindled.

England player ratings (4-3-3)

GK: Jordan Pickford – 5/10

RB: Kyle Walker – 5/10

CB: John Stones – 6/10

CB: Harry Maguire – 6/10

LB: Luke Shaw – 5/10

CM: Jordan Henderson- 4/10

CM: Declan Rice – 7/10

CM: Jude Bellingham – 7/10

RW: Bukayo Saka – 8/10

ST: Harry Kane – 6/10

LW: Phil Foden – 4/10

Substitutes

Mason Mount (79′ for Henderson) – 6/10

Raheem Sterling (79′ for Saka) – 5/10

Marcus Rashford (85′ for Foden) – N/A

Jack Grealish (98′ for Stones) – N/A

Manager

Gareth Southgate – 6/10

France player ratings (4-2-3-1)

GK: Hugo Lloris – 7/10

RB: Jules Kounde – 7/10

CB: Raphael Varane – 7/10

CB: Dayot Upamecano – 5/10

LB: Theo Hernandez – 3/10

CM: Antoine Griezmann – 9/10

CM: Aurelien Tchouameni – 5/10

CM: Adrien Rabiot – 7/10

RW: Ousmane Dembele – 6/10

ST: Olivier Giroud – 7/10

LW: Kylian Mbappe – 6/10

Substitutes

Kingsley Coman (79′ for Dembele) – 5/10

Manager

Didier Deschamps – 5/10

Player of the Match- Antoine Griezmann

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