Deschamps praises 'heart and guts' of France players after reaching World Cup semi-finals

Les Bleus edged past England 2-1 on Saturday night to keep alive their hopes of becoming the first team in 60 years to retain the World Cup

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France manager Didier Deschamps praised his players for their "heart and guts" after beating England to reach the 2022 World Cup semi-finals on Saturday night.

World Cup holders France edged England 2-1 at Al Bayt Stadium, Aurelien Tchouameni opening the scoring with a superb long-range effort in the first half, before Olivier Giroud's header 12 minutes from time restored their lead after Harry Kane had equalised from the penalty spot. Kane had the chance to pull England level again shortly after Giroud's goal but thrashed his second penalty well over the bar.

The victory keeps alive France's hopes of becoming the first team in 60 years to retain the World Cup

"It's fabulous, it was a big game," Deschamps said. "We played a superb England team who are strong technically and physically.

"It's brilliant for the players to be in the last four again. In these moments you kind of wish time could stop for a while. But tonight we're going to enjoy it. We got a bit lucky although we gave away two penalties. We kept our lead with our hearts and our guts."

Giroud, who passed Thierry Henry to become France's all-time top goalscorer earlier in the tournament, said Les Bleus had to be at their best to beat England.

"This goal tonight, the 53rd, is even better (than equalling Henry). Just before I had a chance that I should have hit harder and scored," he said. "I thought I might get another chance and when it came to me it was an unbelievable feeling to score.

"You need to keep believing," he added. "(Antoine Griezmann) gave me a super ball, it's so good for the team, it's awesome.

"We knew the potential of this young England team. They have everything but we played a solid game, we tried to hurt them on the break. We went for it with all our mental strength."

England v France player ratings

France will be favourites when they play Morocco – the first African team ever to reach the semis after their 1-0 win over Portugal – on Wednesday looking to reach a third World Cup final after winning the title in 1998 and 2018.

However, Morocco have been more than a match for other European heavyweights in Qatar, defeating Belgium in the group stage and eliminating Spain and Portugal in successive knockout rounds.

"We will prepare for the next game thoroughly. Morocco deserve praise," said Deschamps. "Maybe they were not expected here (in the last four), but they conceded only one goal and then, seeing them here is not a surprise at all."

Updated: December 11, 2022, 6:46 AM