Live updates | France-Morocco in the World Cup semifinals

Dec 13, 2022, 7:29 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2022, 2:23 pm
France's Randal Kolo Muani scores his side's second goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer matc...

France's Randal Kolo Muani scores his side's second goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between France and Morocco at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

AL KHOR, Qatar (AP) — The Latest from the World Cup semifinal match between France and Morocco:

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France forward Antoine Griezmann says any team with Lionel Messi in it “is a totally different proposition.”

Argentina will face France in the World Cup final on Sunday. Griezmann says Argentina is “on top form.”

“There isn’t only Messi — they have a strong team around him — and they have a lot of support in the crowd,” he said.

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Morocco coach Walid Regragui says the only regret he has about the team’s loss to France in the semifinals is conceding so early in the match.

France defender Theo Hernandez scored in the fifth minute to give the defending champions a 1-0 lead. But Regragui praised him team for a better performance in the second half.

“We improved,” Regragui said. “We created a lot of opportunities. Unfortunately, we weren’t clinical in the final third.”

France eventually got a second goal when Randal Kolo Muani scored in the 79th minute to make it 2-0.

But the Morocco coach said that he was “proud of the team” and that “we did cause them (France) problems.”

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France has beaten Morocco 2-0 to reach the World Cup final against Argentina.

Theo Hernandez scored in the fifth minute and Randal Kolo Muani added a second in the 79th.

The defending champion plays Lionel Messi’s Argentina on Sunday.

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Randal Kolo Muani has scored in the 79th minute to give France a 2-0 lead over Morocco in the World Cup semifinals.

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Speaking before dozens of African leaders gathered in Washington, President Joe Biden joked that he knew what they were thinking when he took the stage.

“Make it short, Biden, there’s a semifinal game coming up,” he said.

Biden thanked the leaders, noting to big cheers from the room that Morocco, which sent its prime minister to the three-day summit, was about to play as the first “African nation in the semifinals.”

After the president was done speaking, the big screens in the conference center switched over to the World Cup match between Morocco and France.

The president watched the match with Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch and other leaders.

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Theo Hernandez scored in the fifth minute to give France a 1-0 lead over Morocco at halftime in the World Cup semifinals.

The left back scored from close range after Kylian Mbappé’s goal-bound shot deflected off teammate Olivier Giroud and into the path of Hernandez.

It was the first goal Morocco has conceded by an opposition player in the tournament. The other goal the team allowed was an own-goal.

Morocco has had to replace two center backs, Nayef Aguerd and Romain Saiss. Aguerd took part in the warmup but didn’t start the game and Saiss came off in the 21st with a hamstring injury.

Jawad El Yamiq hit the post for Morocco with an overhead kick in the 44th minute at Al Bayt Stadium.

The winner will play Argentina in in the final on Sunday at Lusail Stadium.

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Kylian Mbappe attended to a fan who was apparently struck by a stray practice ball ahead of the World Cup semifinal match between France and Morocco on Wednesday.

Mbappe was seen checking on the welfare of the France supporter, who appeared to be dazed, after the incident at Al Bayt Stadium.

The French players had been warming up on the field before the match started. It is not clear if Mbappe was the one who hit the errant shot into the stands, but he quickly went over to check on the man, who was also being helped by fellow fans.

France is looking to win back-to-back World Cup titles. Morocco became the first African nation to make it to the World Cup semifinals and was trying to become the first team from outside Europe or South America to reach the final.

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Morocco made a late change to its starting lineup. Achraf Dari started in defense instead of Nayet Aguerd.

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Theo Hernandez has scored in the fifth minute to give France a 1-0 lead over Morocco in the World Cup semifinals.

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French President Emmanuel Macron is attending the World Cup semifinal match between France and Morocco.

Macron was standing beside FIFA president Gianni Infantino after the national anthems for both countries were played at Al Bayt Stadium.

Macron earlier visited the Souq Waqif bazaar in the Qatari capital and then traveled to the stadium. ___

The World Cup semifinal match between France and Morocco has started at Al Bayt Stadium.

The winner will face two-time Argentina on Sunday in the final at Lusail Stadium.

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Kylian Mbappé will start in a three-man attack for France, which has made two changes from the win over England in the quarterfinals.

Ibrahima Konaté replaces Dayot Upamecano at center back and Youssouf Fofana comes into midfield in place of Adrien Rabiot.

Morocco is at full strength after center backs Nayef Aguerd and Romain Saiss overcame injuries. Saiss was carried off on a stretcher with a left hamstring injury during the win over Portugal in the quarterfinals.

Morocco coach Walid Regragui has reverted to a 5-4-1 formation.

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French President Emmanuel Macron visited a bazaar in Doha before the World Cup semifinal match between France and Morocco.

Macron walked through a crowd at Souq Waqif wearing a scarf with the colors of the Qatari flag before getting into a car amid heavy security.

The French leader is expected to attend the match at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, which is about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Doha. The winner will play Argentina in the final on Sunday.

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Lineups for the World Cup semifinal match between France and Morocco:

France: Hugo Lloris; Jules Koundé, Raphael Varane, Ibrahima Konaté, Theo Hernandez; Aurélien Tchouaméni, Antoine Griezmann, Youssouf Fofana; Ousmane Dembélé, Kylian Mbappé, Olivier Giroud.

Morocco: Yassine Bounou, Achraf Hakimi, Nayet Aguerd, Romain Saiss, Jawad El Yamiq, Noussair Mazraoui; Azzedine Ounahi, Sofyan Amrabat, Hakim Ziyech, Sofiane Boufal; Youssef En-Nesyri.

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Morocco’s history-making run at the World Cup is about to get its ultimate test.

Africa’s first World Cup semifinalist will play defending champion France and striker Kylian Mbappé, the leader of a new wave of soccer superstars coming out of an era dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The match has cultural and political connotations because Morocco was under French rule from 1912-56 and the outcome is far from a foregone conclusion.

Morocco has exceeded all expectations in Qatar by beating second-ranked Belgium in the group stage and then eliminating European powerhouses Spain and Portugal in the knockout phase to reach the semifinals.

No African or Arab nation has ever gotten this far before.

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Morocco’s players are sharing the World Cup spotlight with some of their most ardent fans: their mothers.

Many of the players have brought their mothers and other family members to Qatar and celebrated with them in the stadiums after the team’s impressive string of victories.

Midfielder Sofiane Boufal was dancing with his mother on the field after Morocco beat Portugal 1-0 on Saturday to become the first African and Arab nation to reach the World Cup semifinals. They held hands and danced in circles to the delight of the crowd.

Defender Achraf Hakimi posted images on social media of his mother giving him a kiss on the cheek after he scored the winning penalty against Spain in the round of 16 last week. “I love you mom,” he wrote.

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Morocco’s national carrier says seven flights that were meant to take soccer fans to Qatar for the World Cup semifinal match against France have been canceled because of restrictions by local authorities.

Royal Air Maroc earlier this week announced it would organize 30 flights between Casablanca and Doha on Tuesday and Wednesday for fans to attend the game. But the airline says seven of those flights operated by Qatar Airways were canceled.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Live updates | France-Morocco in the World Cup semifinals