France gets past underdog Morocco, advances to World Cup final vs. Argentina

Theo Hernández and Randal Kolo Muani scored as France defeated underdog Morocco, 2-0, in Qatar on Wednesday, sending Les Bleus into the World Cup final against perennial powerhouse Argentina.

Attacking from a sharp angle six yards out, Hernandez scored on an acrobatic volley in the fifth minute at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, giving France the only goal it would need.

France added an insurance tally in the 79th minute, when superstar Kylian Mbappé drew four Moroccan defenders in the box before slipping a pass to Muani who scored from close range.

The Frenchmen, winners of soccer’s most coveted trophy in 1998 and 2018, are seeking to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cup titles since Brazil did in 1958 and 1962.

French manager Didier Deschamps said he’s overjoyed for his team and hopes his athletes have been able to relish their time in this tournament.

‘”I tell this to my staff and to my players: Take every moment during the day to really appreciate and savor the moment,” Deschamps said. “In four days, we’re going to play for a world title and we’re really going to enjoy it.”

And in a sweet moment after Wednesday night’s match, Mbappé embraced Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi, his good friend and teammate at Paris Saint-Germain. They exchanged shirts, and Mbappé celebrated with French fans wearing Hakimi’s No. 2 Morocco shirt.

And on the other side of Sunday’s massive match, 35-year-old Argentine legend Lionel Messi and his teammates will seek to capture their nation’s first World Cup title since 1986, a tournament best known for Argentina’s quarterfinal victory over England, thanks in part to Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal.

Even as one of his sport’s greatest players, Messi has long been the unfair target of frustrated fans back home for the national team’s failure to win the World Cup.

Argentina won the Copa America last year, with a 1-0 victory over host Brazil in the final but demanding supporters of La Albiceleste won’t be satisfied until Messi raises the World Cup.

Bookmakers put Sunday’s title match at even odds.

The title match is set to kick off at 10 a.m. EST Sunday from Lusail Stadium in Al Daayen.

Morroco, which captured the world’s imagination as the first African side to ever make the World Cup semifinals, will play for third place Saturday against 2018 runner-up Croatia. That match will be played at Khalifa International Stadium in Ar-Rayyan.

The next World Cup will be in North America in 2026 with the United States, Canada and Mexico serving as hosts.

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