History made, records broken as Morocco, Croatia, France, and Argentina all advance to World Cup semi-finals

Last month, 32 teams from different countries arrived in Qatar to compete in the famous sporting tournament, the Fifa World Cup.

At the group stage, 16 teams were eliminated while the top 16 competed for a spot in the quarterfinals. As the winners of the quarterfinals advance to the semifinals, those final eight are now down to four:

Croatia, Argentina, Morocco, and France

Croatia shocked the favorites, Brazil

At the Education City Stadium on Friday, Croatia shocked five-time world champions Brazil with a thrilling 4-2 penalty shootout victory to advance to the World Cup semifinals.

Brazil appeared to be laboring to a late victory over their stubborn opponents when star striker Neymar found the back of the net in the stoppage time of the first half of extra time.

Bruno Petkovic pounced on Mislav Orsic’s cross, taking advantage of a terrible Marquinhos deflection that caught Alisson off guard, to score the equalizer in the 117th minute, which took the game to penalties.

Brazil’s Marquinhos and Rodrygo missed their penalty kicks, while Nikola Vlasic, Lovro Majer, Luka Modric, and Orsic completed a flawless set, to seal Croatia’s spot in the tournament’s final four.

“We eliminated the biggest favourites,” manager Zlatko Dalic said afterward. “A great match from the first minute to the last. This is not the end for us, let’s keep going.

“This is a victory for all of us, everyone gave their best. Thanks also to those on the bench, who also live for this national team.”

All three times that Croatia has successfully passed the World Cup group stage, they have now advanced to at least the semifinals (1998, 2018, and 2022).

Argentina edged past the Netherlands

Another thrilling quarter-final encounter on Friday, saw Argentina defeat the Netherlands thanks to Lionel Messi’s incredible performance.

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar gained possession of the ball in midfield and then played a beautiful pass through to Nahuel Molina, who scored with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.

Messi later converted from the spot in the 73rd minute after Marcos Acuna had been tripped before the Netherlands mounted an incredible comeback, with substitute Wout Weghorst scoring two late goals to force extra time.

He headed in from Steven Berghuis’ cross with just seven minutes left and then scored the equalizer by firing a last-minute shot past Emiliano Martinez after Teun Koopmeiners slipped him in from a free kick.

Emiliano Martinez put on an incredible goalkeeping performance to save two penalty kicks as Argentina went on to win the shoot-out to book a date with Croatia in the semi-finals.

Morocco, the first African country to reach the World Cup semi-finals

It is truly amazing what Morocco has accomplished during this World Cup. They were just hoping to get to the round of 16 after being placed in a group with Belgium and Croatia and replacing their coach just months before the competition.

The Atlas Lions, however, have gone much beyond that. Morocco has become the first African team to reach the semifinals of the World Cup after defeating Portugal 1-0 on Saturday, in what was Cristiano Ronaldo’s likely last World Cup.

After a superb Yahya Attiat-Allah’s cross into the box, En-Nesyri rose over Diogo Costa to head home the only goal of the game in the 42nd minute.

Bruno Fernandes had a chance to tie the score before halftime when he attempted a lob shot at Bono, but he unluckily struck the post.

Only six minutes into the second half, Portugal piled more pressure on Morocco with the introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Cancelo.

With nine minutes left, Bono made a fantastic stop to keep Joao Felix from scoring.

Walid Cheddira was given two yellow cards in the span of only two minutes, reducing Morocco to 10 men in stoppage time. But Morocco secured advancement to the semi-finals as time quickly ran out for Portugal.

France advanced at the expense of England

Defending champions France defeated England in a sensational quarterfinal match at the Al Bayt Stadium, and advanced to the World Cup semifinals. The game was decided by Olivier Giroud’s close-range header and Harry Kane’s missed penalty.

In the 17th minute, a 25-yard effort from Aurelien Tchouameni gave France the lead after dipping past Jordan Pickford’s dive.

Hugo Lloris, who earned a record 143rd cap for his country’s senior men’s squad, saved a thunderous long-range shot from Harry Kane to maintain France’s lead despite having the better of the first half.

Both teams traded opportunities in the second half, with Lloris tipping Jude Bellingham’s stinging shot over the crossbar and Pickford stopping a close-range volley to deny Giroud.

England pulled level nine minutes after the half when Kane easily beat Hugo Lloris from the spot – matching Wayne Rooney’s record of 53 goals for England – after Tchouameni fouled Bukayo Saka.

Twelve minutes from time, Olivier Giroud headed home Antoine Griezmann’s precise cross to give France the advantage once more.

But Theo Hernandez fouled substitute Mason Mount in the box, giving England a quick opportunity to equalize from the penalty spot.

Kane blasted the penalty attempt over the crossbar to prevent a second England goal with just six minutes remaining.

On Wednesday, France and Morocco will play in the semifinals in the same venue.

Semi-final fixtures

The semi-finals will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 13

Argentina vs Croatia, Lusail Stadium, 10pm (19:00GMT)

Wednesday, December 14

Morocco vs France, Al Bayt Stadium, 10pm (19:00GMT)


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