France has secured their place in a second world cup final in a row, after defeating Morocco in the second semi-final played at the Al-Bayt stadium on Wednesday, with goals by Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani.
Hernandez volleyed a loose ball past Yassine Bounou in the Morocco goal, with just about five minutes on the clock after a deflected shot from Mbappe fell kindly to him. And Mbappe was involved in the second goal as well, when he went on a typical mazy run with his shot falling this time to substitute Kolo Muani who scored with his first touch in the 79th minute, less than a minute after coming on.
France now has the chance to create history by being the first side to retain the world cup in 60 years, after Brazil which won it in 1958 and 1962 and the third side overall with Italy having won it in 1934 and 1938.
With French President Emmanuel Macron watching on, they were lucky in large parts of the game with a mix of good defending and poor decision-making from the Moroccans helping them to cling on to their narrow 1-0 lead. It wasn’t until the second goal that the victory was well and truly wrapped up.
The Moroccans came into the match with fitness doubts surrounding four key players (Nayef Aguerd, Romain Saiss, Noussair Mazraoui and Sofyan Amrabat). Only Aguerd did not start as he pulled out shortly before kickoff, but the risk in starting Saiss and Mazraoui backfired as the former was taken off in the 21st minute and Mazraoui did not come back on after halftime.
Despite that, the Atlas lions were a persistent threat going forward, as they sought an equalizer with Amrabat winning the ball back five times in the opening quarter of the match. Their quest to get back into the match left them more susceptible at the back than they have been at this tournament.
Ultimately, Mbappe who had a relatively quiet match was able to weave his magic wand by going on one of his trademark runs which resulted in an easy tap-in for Kolo Muani.