France coach Didier Deschamps said his team beat England 2-1 on Saturday with “heart and guts” to advance to the World Cup semifinals and keep alive their hopes of winning the title won four years ago.
France won with a headed goal from Olivier Giroud with 12 minutes to go, which left them two wins away from becoming the first team in 60 years to win the world title.
“It’s fabulous, it’s been a great match,” Deschamps said. “We played against a magnificent team, very strong technically and physically.”
“It’s great for the players to be back in the semi-finals. At this moment one wishes that time would stop for a moment (…) But tonight we’re going to enjoy it. We were a bit lucky, although we gave away two penalties. We kept the lead with heart and guts.”
England captain Harry Kane equalised in the 54th but near the end wasted another by throwing the ball over the crossbar.
Giroud, who had already surpassed Thierry Henry and became the top scorer in French history, declared that the Bleus had had to work hard to defeat England.
“Tonight’s goal, the 53rd, is even better (than beating Henry). Just before I had an opportunity that I could not take advantage of (…) I thought I might have another chance and, when it came, scoring was an incredible feeling.”
France will be the heavy favourites when they face Morocco – the first African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals in history after their 1-0 win over Portugal – on Wednesday in the hunt for a third final after winning the title in 1998 and 2018.
“We will prepare thoroughly for the next game. Morocco deserves praise,” Deschamps said. “Maybe they weren’t expected to make it this far (semi-finals), but they’ve only conceded one goal (so far in the tournament) and so to see them here is not a surprise at all.”