A Olivier Giroud goal twelve minutes from end helped France edge England 2-1 in a fast-paced game to set up a FIFA World Cup semi-final clash with Morocco, who sensationally beat Portugal in the other quarter-final of the day.
England provided a wonderful fightback but missed a crucial chance to take the game into extra time as Harry Kane missed a penalty at fag end of the match.
In the end, Les Bleus’s ability to produce a moment of brilliance out of thin air was the difference and are the first reigning champion to reach the World Cup semi-finals since Brazil in 1998.
England now head back home, but they should do so with their heads held high, having pushed the current world champions the distance in this gripping encounter.
It was a largely equally matched first half, but England began the second with renewed vigour.
England midfielder Jordan Henderson said they gave everything in the match.
“It’s difficult to find the right words. I thought we gave everything. (We were) disappointed to go one-nil down. I thought (our) character to keep going and find an equaliser was good.”
“We know how many penalties he (Harry Kane) has scored for us. How many goals he has contributed for us to get here. He will be stronger for it (the penalty miss) in the long run. He is a world-class striker and our captain.”
“We felt really good with our performances (in the tournament). The hunger was really good. It, unfortunately, wasn’t our night, and (we have to) give credit to France as they are a good team.”
Aurelien Tchouameni put France ahead with a blistering long-range shot in the 17th minute at Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar on Saturday. England fans were left particularly aggrieved after calls for two suspected fouls against Bukayo Saka were dismissed in the seconds before the defending world champions opened the scoring and went into the half-time break leading 1-0.
But there wasn’t much to see from France during the rest of the first half and the Englishmen returned from the break as the better team. Their pressing was rewarded with a penalty after Saka was brought down inside the box.
Captain Kane fired a power-packed effort from the spot to level the game in the 54th and net his 53rd goal for England, equalling Wayne Rooney as the joint-highest scorer for the Three Lions.
Harry Maguire could have put England ahead in the 70th but narrowly missed the target. On the other side of the pitch, Giroud also missed from close range in the 77th, but didn’t waste the next chance and headed into the net a cross from Griezmann just a minute later.
Kane had the chance of taking the game to extra-time as England were awarded another penalty, but this time the captain sent the ball well over the crossbar.
A last-minute free-kick gave England a final beacon of hope but Marcus Rashford’s effort beat the top corner of the net by a few centimetre.
This is the seventh time England have been eliminated from the quarter-final stages of the World Cup, more than any other side in the history of the competition.
The World Cup will now pause for a couple of days before action resumes when Argentina and Croatia face off for a spot in the final on December 13.