Goals from Aurelien Tchouameni and Olivier Giroud saw France defeat England 2-1 to keep their title defence alive at 2022 FIFA World Cup.
France maximised a dominant start as they claimed a 17th minute lead through Tchouameni’s powerful 17th minute strike into bottom left-corner, having collected Antoine Griezmann’s lay-off pass.
Harry Kane pulled England level from the penalty spot in the 54th minute after a foul on Bukayo Saka amidst a series of frustrating refereeing decisions, as his goal put him joint-level with Wayne Rooney as England’s all-time goalscorer.
France though broke through to regain the lead through Olivier Giroud’s 78th minute header via Antoine Griezmann’s cross.
Kane six minutes later missed a chance to once again level from the spot as he rifled over following a foul from Theo Hernandez on Mason Mount.
Didier Deschamps’ title holders eventually prevailed to keep alive their dreams of becoming the first team since Brazil in 1962 to defend their title.
France will now meet Morocco in the concluding semi-final at Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday 14 December at 10pm AST local time, with the winner proceeding to meet Argentina or Croatia in the Final on Sunday 18 December at 6pm AST.
With both teams having named unchanged starting line-ups from their Round of 16 wins over Senegal and Poland respectively, it was France who made the better start as they quickly pressed high.
England’s Phil Foden though had the first chance of the match in the fourth minute as he met Jordan Henderson’s pass, but his shot was blocked by the French defence.
Giroud eventually produced France’s first shot on target seven minutes later, as he nodded Ousmane Dembele’s cross onto goal but Jordan Pickford made a comfortable save.
England’s scrappy defending eventually were made to pay the price in the 17th minute as Kylian Mbappe was allowed to freely cut across from the left into the central third, from which he teed up Antoine Griezmann via Demble to lay off for Tchouameni to rifle in from 25 yards.
Luke Shaw attempted to respond for the 1966 winners two minutes later after Adrien Rabiot had fouled Saka, yet his set piece was comfortably saved by Hugo Lloris.
Lloris was once again in action in the 22nd minute as Kane cut in and attempted to chip over his Tottenham teammate, yet the Frenchman made a crucial block to deny the England captain.
Kane three minutes later was tussled to the ground as he cut into the box, only for referee, Wilton Sampaio to deny him a penalty which Video Assistant Referee (VAR) backed up following a lengthy check.
Further frustrations followed for England as Kane saw a 29th minute shot from 25 yards denied by Lloris, whilst Sampaio repeatedly ruled various fouls against England.
France meanwhile missed a chance to double their lead six minutes from half time as Griezmann’s free-kick was fed to Theo Hernandez, who pulled back for Mbappe but the French forward rifled wide as Didier Deschamps’ Les Bleus clung onto their narrow lead into the break.
England however channelled their frustations at Sampaio’s inept refereeing by immediately winning a corner upon the restart, from which Jude Bellingham unleashed a powerful strike towards the roof of the net only for Lloris to flick it over then save the corner.
Jordan Henderson put a 51st minute rebound shot wide before Tchouameni one minute later fouled Saka just inside the box, from which Kane dispatched the penalty to restore parity for England.
England’s equaliser almost proved short-lived as Rabiot one minute later pounced upon a loose ball but his strike was luckily punched away by Pickford.
Saka and Kane soon saw shots denied by Lloris as England soon began to regroup and enjoy a spell of dominance.
Sampaio meanwhile continued to ignore fouls on several England players – including Saka who saw a 65th minute foul denied, yet was awarded a foul four minutes later after he was fouled by Theo Hernandez from which Harry Maguire headed the free-kick wide.
Bellingham meanwhile was enraged after Sampaio ignored a 74th minute foul from Dayot Upamecano in farcical scenes.
England’s anger eventually proved their undoing as Pickford two minutes later saved Giroud’s unmarked volley, yet the Frenchman headed in from Griezmann’s left-flank cross one minute later to restore France’s lead.
Three Lions manager, Gareth Southgate responded by substituting Henderson and Saka for Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling, and the former drew a 80th minute shove from Hernandez but Sampaio ruled no penalty until VAR overturned his decision.
Kane stepped up in the 84th minute but rifled his shot over the bar in a moment where he could of become England’s all-time top goalscorer if he had converted the penalty.
France ultimately clung on to secure a second consecutive semi-final appearance at the World Cup, with the reigning champions now set to face Morocco in the semi-finals on Wednesday 14 December at Al Bayt Stadium.
Speaking post-match to ITV, Southgate stated that France’s two goals simply proved “decisive” but praised his players as he said: “I’ve just said to the players they couldn’t have given any more, they played really well against a top team. It is fine margins.
“The way they have progressed as a team through the tournament has been marvellous.”
England: Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker, John Stones (Grealish 90+8′), Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Jordan Henderson (Mount 79′), Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka (Sterling 79′), Harry Kane, Phil Foden (Rashford 85′)
Substitutes: Jack Grealish, Marcus Rashford, Kieran Trippier, Nick Pope, Kalvin Phillips, Eric Dier, Conor Coady, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mason Mount, Aaron Ramsdale, Callum Wilson, James Maddison, Conor Gallagher
France: Hugo Lloris, Jules Kounde, Raphael Varane, Dayot Upamecano, Theo Hernandez, Aurelien Tchouameni, Adrien Rabiot, Ousmane Dembele (Coman 79′), Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud
Substitutes: Benjamin Pavard, Axel Disasi, Matteo Guendouzi, Randal Kolo Muani, Youssouf Fofana, Jordan Veretout, Steve Mandanda, William Saliba, Kingsley Coman, Alphonse Areola, Eduardo Camavinga, Ibrahima Konate, Marcus Thuram
Referee: Wilton Sampaio (Brazil)