Defending champs France advance to World Cup semis

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

England’s Harry Kane, right, reacts as France players celebrate their team victory over England at the end of the World Cup quarterfinal match between England and France, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, on Saturday. (AP PHOTO) –

DEFENDING champions France progressed to the FIFA World Cup semi-final after booting England out with a nervy 2-1 victory at Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar on Saturday.

A fantastic long-range effort from midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni put France ahead in the 17th minute but a well-taken penalty from England skipper and forward Harry Kane drew them level in the 54th.

Striker Olivier Giroud extended his reign as France’s leading top scorer when he headed past English goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the 78th minute to take his tally to 53 international goals for Les Bleus.

Kane had another golden opportunity to level the score in the 84th courtesy another penalty but his shot sailed over bar and England seemed bound for the exit.

England kept pressing but Jude Bellingham’s wonder-strike was save brilliantly by French goalie Hugo Lloris while Harry Maguire also had a headed chance skim past the goal post.

It was not to be for the Three Lions.

At the final whistle, the French players erupted in celebration while the English were left stunned.

France face Morocco in the second semi-final on Wednesday while Argentina go up against Croatia in the first, on Tuesday.