Aurelien Tchouameni broke the deadlock in style with a sweetly struck effort from 25 yards that whistled beyond the despairing dive of Jordan Pickford. However, Tchouameni’s opener was dogged by controversy, with England aggrieved that a foul had not been awarded for a tackle on Bukayo Saka in the build-up.
England were gifted a golden opportunity to draw level just seven minutes after the break when Saka was sent sprawling in the box. Harry Kane stepped up and emphatically dispatched his spot-kick past Hugo Lloris to keep England’s hopes alive.
England had the lions’ share of the chances and the ball after drawing level, but Olivier Giroud restored France’s lead against the run of play in the 78th minute with a booming near-post header.
Kane had the chance to keep England’s hopes alive for a second time, but he blazed a penalty wildly over the bar in the final minutes to condemn his country to another painful quarter-final defeat.
Here, Mirror Football looks at the talking points from Sunday’s match…
1. England succumb to late setbacks
Tchouameni’s 17th minute strike marked the first time that England had fallen behind in Qatar. Southgate’s side haven’t struggled to find the back of the net during the tournament – and they did fight back to get onto level terms against Didier Deschamps’ side.
England did improve after going behind but could not initially find a way past Hugo Lloris, who in inspired form and impressively thwarted both Kane and Jude Bellingham through the course of the evening.
It appeared as though England were set to pay the price for an uncharacteristically nervy start. They were timid and ponderous in the opening stages of the match; that was in contrast to France, who were punchy on the ball and full of swagger.
Kane’s early second-half leveller lifted spirits – but his late miss was a setback that was ultimately too great for England to recover from.
2. Kane’s rollercoaster evening
As he so often does, Kane appeared to have delivered for England when they needed him most.
The Three Lions skipper had been criticised for another barren run of games in the Group Stages, but like he did at Euro 2020 last summer, the Tottenham skipper came to life in the knockout stages.
He followed up his first goal of the tournament against Senegal in the Round of 16 with a nerveless penalty to restore parity against France.
Kane sent club teammate Lloris sprawling in the wrong direction to wipe out Tchouameni’s opener in the second-half. His ice-cold penalty was his 53rd for his country – meaning he needs just one more to edge past England’s current leading goalscorer, Wayne Rooney.
But his night soon took a turn for the worse: just minutes after Giroud’s header, Kane blazed a second spot-kick well over the bar as England’s World Cup hopes faded.
Ultimately, and as cruel as it may be, Kane’s night will forever be remembered for that contribution rather than anything else.
3. Three Lions downed by a familiar face
It was a familiar face who ended England’s World Cup hopes in the closing stages in Doha.
Giroud became France’s all-time record goalscorer earlier in the competition. And it was the target man, who is widely acknowledged as one of the more under appreciated players in recent Premier League history, who proved to be the man for the big occasion again.
4. Mbappe comes out on top against Walker
Much of the talk in the build-up to match centred around one man: Kylian Mbappe.
The potent Paris Saint-Germain was the tournaments leading scorer heading into the match after plundering five goals in four games and was pegged as France’s main threat. England’s hopes of progressing into the final four were always going to hinge heavily on stifling Mbappe, who went head-to-head with Manchester City’s Kyle Walker.
Mbappe started the evening brightly and played a pivotal role in France’s opener after Walker was upfield in support of Saka on England’s right-hand side.
The 23-year-old speedster put on the afterburners to leave Walker trailing in his wake just minutes after England drew level to leave hearts in mouths, but Walker stuck to his task admirably.
Mbappe had the last laugh, though, after Giroud’s header and Kane’s late penalty miss as France advanced to the semi-finals at Walker and England’s expense.
5. VAR controversy
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England went in a goal down at the break, but they had a right to feel aggrieved after two controversial first-half calls went against them.
First, referee Wilton Sampaio failed to give a foul on Saka in the build-up to Tchouameni’s opener before deciding that there was no case for Dayot Upamecano to answer after he appeared to bring Kane down on the line of the penalty area.
The latter decision was checked by VAR but was not overturned. Disgruntled England players hounded Sampaio at the break, but the Brazilian didn’t seem moved.
6. Southgate’s bold stand
Although England have dazzled in Qatar they were in pretty bad shape heading into the tournament. Following an uninspiring six-game winless streak, Southgate was barraged by disgruntled England fans on more than one occasion back in the summer and his often pragmatic approach has not been popular.
There had been concern amongst some England fans that Southgate would revert to a back five for their seismic showdown with the reigning world champions – even though the Three Lions’ have thrived playing a 4-3-3.
But Southgate was bold against France and stuck with the very same team that put Senegal to the sword so impressively last weekend.
There has been plenty of speculation that Southgate could opt to leave his role with the national team after the tournament. Several England players have spent gone public with their desire to see him stay on for the 2024 European championships.
If this does prove to be Southgate’s last stand, then it was a bold one.
7. England fail ultimate test
England had caught the eye prior to Sunday’s match, but resounding victories over Iran, Wales and Senegal came with caveats. The showdown with France was billed as England’s first real test of the tournament – and it ultimately proved a step too far.
But this defeat came with a caveat of its own. England are unfortunate to be the ones heading home after standing toe-to-toe against the defending champions for the majority of the match. They had the better chances; they played the better football.
Ultimately though, England have fallen short at the same hurdle, against a big name, once again – and that will sting for some time to come, regardless of how they performed.