World Cup

According to Deschamps, “heart and guts” earned France a semifinal position.

France defeated a strong England team on Saturday with “heart and guts,” according to coach Didier Deschamps, maintaining their chances of winning back-to-back championships.

With a 2-1 victory over England, Olivier Giroud’s header 12 minutes from time maintained French dreams of being the first team to successfully defend the World Cup in 60 years alive.

It’s fabulous, it was a big game,” said Deschamps. “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.”

In the 54th minute, England captain Harry Kane tied the score with a penalty, but he missed his second attempt 30 minutes later.

Les Bleus had to be at their best to defeat England, according to Giroud, who earlier in the tournament passed Thierry Henry to become France’s all-time leading scorer.

“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.”

After winning the World Cup in 1998 and 2018, France will be strong favorites when they face Morocco on Wednesday. Morocco became the first African team to ever go to the semifinals after defeating Portugal 1-0.

“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.”

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