England managed to set a painful World Cup record on Saturday night as they were dumped out by France in the quarter-finals to extend their 56-year wait for a major international trophy. Olivier Giroud scored the winning goal for the defending champions with a powerful second-half header to set up a semi-final meeting with Morocco and send England packing in heartbreaking fashion after Harry Kane missed a late penalty that would have seen the Three Lions draw level.
England took a while to get going at the Al Bayt Stadium and were made to pay for their sluggish start to proceedings when Aurelien Tchouameni fired home from 25 yards to open the scoring for France early on. Kane managed to grab a deserved equaliser from the penalty spot after the break, though, with the England skipper making no mistake from 12 yards to send Hugo Lloris the wrong way after Bukayo Saka was fouled in the box.
France went on to restore their narrow advantage through Giroud, who headed past Jordan Pickford from close range as the clock ticked down, before England were given a lifeline in the form of another spot-kick after a foul on Mason Mount. However, Kane was unable to repeat his previous heroics under the weight of pressure and ended up sending the ball high over the crossbar.
The result saw England set an unwanted World Cup record for the most quarter-final exits in the history of the competition to add insult to injury after the final whistle. It marked their seventh last-eight defeat since their first tournament appearance in 1950, while it also saw France register their first-ever World Cup victory over England, who won their previous meeting in the group stages back in 1982.
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It remains to be seen how England will move forward from their latest heartbreaking defeat on the biggest international stage as the dust begins to settle on another sore night for the Three Lions. Gareth Southgate remains contracted until the end of 2024 as things stand but admitted after Saturday’s game that he will be assessing his options over whether to stay on as England manager or hand over the reins to somebody else over the coming weeks.
“After every tournament, we’ve sat and reviewed and reflected,” Southgate told ITV Sport. “That needs a bit of time so everybody makes the right decisions.”
The England boss went on to commend the efforts of his players, who fell just short against France despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession and creating a large number of chances over the course of the match. He said: “I think our performance did [deserve more], but goals are decisive.
“I just said to the players I don’t think they could have done any more, I thought they played well against a top team, but it’s fine margins. I thought the way this group progressed throughout the tournament was fantastic. It’s pointless me going into that [about the referee], I’d rather talk about my players.
“Congrats to France, they know they’ve been in a game. I don’t think we could’ve done any more. For me, we win and lose as a team, we’ve missed a few chances.”
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