Football News

“This is not a disgrace” – England 1-2 France player ratings

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 21:30, 10 December 2022

France’s attempt to become the first back-to-back World Cup winners since Brazil in 1962 remains intact after running out 2-1 winners over England this evening.

In an entertaining back-and-forth affair, Gareth Southgate’s men came from behind after falling behind early. Aurelien Tchouameni put the champions in front before Harry Kane equalised from 12 yards. Olivier Giroud restored Les Bleus lead but that should have been cancelled out by Kane again.

Again, standing in front of his club-mate, Kane skied a second penalty over the ball all but ending England’s long wait to end 56 years of hurt. “I’m gutted for the lads. You wouldn’t want anyone else to take that penalty. The heartbreak of working so hard through all the games and to wait four more years,” Gary Neville said afterwards. “This is not a disgrace. England played well in that game against a very good side. I thought they edged it.”

As for the French, the first defending champions to reach the semi-finals since Brazil in 1998, they now face a buoyant Morroco side for a place in next Sunday’s final.

Here’s how the players rated at Al Bayt Stadium:

England

Jordan Pickford – 6 – Unlucky to have conceded the way he did. Tchouameni’s effort went between Bellingham’s legs which affected his reaction time. He did make amends by denying Rabiot soon after England pulled level. Even better was denying Giroud from point blank in the 77th minute, though Pickford couldn’t do anything to prevent France’s all-time top scorer from putting his side back ahead seconds later.

Kyle Walker – 7 – Handed the unenviable task of keeping France’s mercurial forward Mbappé in check. No stranger to having this particular job, the Manchester City full-back actually put in a decent shift and never came anywhere close to being embarrassed by the speedster.

John Stones – 6 – Went off with an injury late on, before his departure Stones looked like his City self often dropping into midfield and distributing possession.

Harry Maguire – 7 – Came agonisingly close to putting England ahead from a set-piece. His headed effort in the 70th minute grazed the post.

Luke Shaw – 6 – Because the focus was on Mbappe down England’s right flank, Shaw was encouraged to play higher up the field. Saw a free-kick in the first half comfortably saved by Hugo Lloris.

Declan Rice – 6 – Played the anchor role well as he could have done, no one in an England jersey touched the ball on more occasions than West Ham’s inspirational captain.

Jordan Henderson – 7 – England’s unlikely creator-in-chief this evening. Henderson, who often linked up with Saka on the right flank, produced no fewer than three goalscoring opportunities for his teammates.

Jude Bellingham – 6.5 – Enjoyed a fascinating battle with Antoine Griezmann, the young England star nevertheless was a presence driving the Three Lions from midfield.

Phil Foden – 7 – Started in a tentative manner but as the match grew older Foden began to find his feet and showcased his playmaking attributes.

Harry Kane – 6.5 – Thought he’d won England a penalty soon after going behind. Saka did early into the second half and Kane didn’t need a second invitation to join Wayne Rooney level as the Three Lions‘ all-time leading scorer. He could have moved ahead minutes from the end with another perfect spot-kick but skied the ball over Lloris’s bar.

“The only consolation is it has happened to a top professional, hopefully he is mature enough, obviously upset,” Roy Keane told ITV afterwards.

“But with a younger player, you would fear it being header to come back from it, but the fact is he is a top professional. But you would like to think he would have done a little bit better.”

Bukayo Saka – 8.5 – Retained his spot ahead of Marcus Rashford and was England’s most consistent attacking threat from the right flank. Hard done by not earning a free-kick in the build-up to France’s opener, but turned it around by winning a penalty early into the second half.

Substitutes:

Mason Mount (for Henderson 79) – 5 – Came on and won England a penalty.

Raheem Sterling (for Saka 79) – N/A – A late sub.

Marcus Rashford (for Foden 85) – 5 – Had an opportunity to send the game into extra-time with a very late free-kick.


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France

Hugo Lloris – 6 – Has looked shaky at times in Qatar and the Tottenham shot-stopper was second best to his club-mate Kane’s spot-kick.

Jules Kounde – 6 – Nominally a centre-back it was expected that Kounde wouldn’t provide a consistent attacking threat on that flank. He did win two aerial duels and produced a key clearance.

Raphael Varane – 7 – Used every ounce of his experience to steady France’s defence as soon as England got on top. Varane’s best days may be in the past he still remains an influential figure in this French rearguard.

Dayot Upamecano – 6 – Unlike his centre-back partner Upamecano at times looked uncomfortable but he did produce an important headed clearance late on as England sought to register a second equaliser.

Theo Hernandez – 5.5 – A game of two halves for the Milan full-back who often took up dangerous positions in England’s half, but at times had no answer for Saka’s wizardry. Foolishly gave away a second penalty, by needlessly shoving Mason Mount, but was handed a reprieve as Kane blasted it over.

Aurelien Tchouameni – 7 – Not much had been spoken about the 22-year-old before kick-off. He made sure everyone remembered his name after putting the French in front with a specular long-range effort. On the flip side, it was his reckless challenge on Saka that allowed England to get back into the game.

Adrien Rabiot – 7 – Could have immediately put France back in front with a shot from a distance which Pickford equally matched. Aside from that, he was exemplary in France’s midfield driving the ball forward with deep runs.

Antoine Griezmann – 9 – Cool, calm and collected in France’s midfield. Griezmann effortlessly pulled the strings and was at the heart of France’s most dangerous attacks. He teed up Tchouameni before providing a scintillating cross for Giroud’s winner. To say the Atletico Madrid forward was playing at his optimum level would be an understatement.

Kylian Mbappe – 7 – All eyes were on the Paris Saint-Germain forward and he didn’t really put in an explosive performance. That being said, whenever he gained possession there was an element of expectancy, England showed him respect but Southgate would have been proud of his men subduing the competition’s leading goalscorer.

Olivier Giroud – 8 – Reverted to his Russia 2018 self in the opening half. Giroud seldom pinned England’s centre-halves back instead roamed a few yards ahead of them. He did, though, score the all-important goal with another powerful header. 

Ousmane Dembele – 7 – Was an offensive threat but more interesting was Dembele’s astute defensive work as he would cover 

Substitutes:

Kingsley Coman (for Dembélé 78) – N/A – A late sub.

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