World Cup holders France beat Morocco to set up final with Messi’s Argentina

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By Euronews  with AFP, AP
France's players celebrate after reaching a second successive World Cup final.
France's players celebrate after reaching a second successive World Cup final.   -   Copyright  Credit: AP

Crowds in Paris and other French cities erupted in shouts of joy as France advanced to the World Cup final on Wednesday night after crushing Morocco's World Cup dreams, defeating the North African side 2-0.

The French will now go on to battle it out against Argentina on Sunday in their fourth final in all, having won the last tournament in Russia in 2018. 

Meanwhile, disappointed Morocco fans mingled with the exuberant supporters of the winning team, paying tribute to the African country's unprecedented achievement.

Football fans streamed to the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, shooting off firecrackers and red flares, to an unending chorus of honking cars. 

Some Moroccan fans, wrapped in the North African country's flag, also cheered their team in the streets of the French capital.

Celebrating the victory near the Bastille square, in central Paris, Adrien Vignau, a 22-year-old Parisian, praised a “great victory for France” and said he was looking forward to the final against Argentina and its star player, Lionel Messi.

“Bravo to Moroccans,” said Parisian Corentin Voiseux. “Tonight it’s not only France that wins but all of the French-speaking people. ... We are together and Moroccans will be with us at the final,” he added.

Despite the celebrations, there was some trouble and police reported scores of arrests around the capital and elsewhere in France.

French boosted by early lead

Les Bleus scored in the 5th minute, with Theo Hernandez putting one in the back of the net. They bagged another goal in the 79th as Randal Kolo Muani easily tapped it in. 

But Morocco put up a commendable fight. They placed France under pressure throughout the match, particularly during the second half, but could not break through and score. 

Morocco's resilient squad defied the odds across the tournament and had hoped to defeat France in a match steeped in symbolism.  

Morocco is Africa's and the Arab World's first World Cup semi-finalist, with their footballing success a source of hope and pride for millions around the world. 

Emotional Morrocan fans hung on in the stadium to applaud their side, many with tears in their eyes. 

Moroccan achievement immense despite crushing disappointment

Excitement mounted all day in Doha, with Moroccan fans pouring into the stadium. 

Their whistles and chants from Morocco's stands during the match were deafening but tapered off towards the end of the game as France's victory became clearer. 

The players of the French national team were copiously whistled by the public as they entered the Stade al-Bayt, signifying the dominance of the North African fans.  

Led by the likes of Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud, France ended Morocco’s fairytale run. 

Despite being the favourites, the reigning champions had to dig deep against the Moroccan side who beat Spain and Portugal -- amongst others -- thanks to their solid defence, creativity in the final third, and the backing of thousands of fans who have made the trip to Qatar.

Morocco became the first African and Arab country in history to reach the World Cup semi-finals by beating Portugal 1-0 on Saturday.

The match was steeped in political symbolism, as Morocco was colonised by France until the country gained independence in 1956. 

The Moroccan diaspora in France is also the largest in Europe, with more than a million Moroccans living in the country.

Trouble and arrests after match

Some 25,000 people gathered on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on Wednesday evening after France's victory over Morocco in the World Cup semi-final, according to the Paris police.

In total, 167 people were arrested in the Paris area, including 145 in Paris, the police said.

In Paris, 40 people close to the ultra-right were arrested for "grouping with a view to committing violence" and carrying prohibited weapons.

At national level (excluding the Paris area), according to an initial report, the police reported 95 arrests and five injured police officers.

A 14-year-old was killed in Montpellier "by a hit-and-run driver", according to the prefecture of the southern Hérault department.

In Belgium, scuffles briefly broke out in Brussels after the game and authorities countered with water cannon and teargas after they were targeted. One and a half hours later, a tense calm had returned. Media reports spoke of 40 detentions. There also was some unrest in northern Antwerp.