Despite dominating for large swathes of the game, it was heartbreak for England, who were beaten 2-1 by France and would rue a late Harry Kane penalty miss.
It was the first knockout meeting in a major tournament between the rival countries, separated by only a thin stretch of water. The game started in a predictably cagey fashion, with Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions adopting Didier Deschamps’ defensive conservatism, which has brought Les Bleus such success in recent years.
Before any side had a clear sight of goal, France took the lead. Dayot Upamecano, perhaps illegally, dispossesed Bukayo Saka deep in the France half and carried the ball up field. With the England defence reseting and retreating, the ball came to former AS Monaco midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni, who rifled the ball into the bottom corner from outside the box.
England hit back, creating a string of half chances, which Hugo Lloris, in his record-breaking 143rd appearance for France, had the answers to. The Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper and France captain was also equal to a fierce Jude Bellingham drive at the beginning of the second-half, but he was powerless to prevent England’s equaliser with Kane, Lloris’ club teammate powering home from the spot after Tchouaméni had felled Saka in the box.
Temporarily at least, the game opened up, with both sides looking to exploit the spaces in transitional and broken play. The game settled back into a rhythm for the final 20 minutes, and as France began to exert control, they began to create chances.
Olivier Giroud, France’s all-time top-scorer had a headed effort well-saved by Jordan Pickford, but he wasn’t to be denied just seconds later, as he got on the end of an Antoine Griezmann cross to re-establish France’s advantage.
Les Bleus almost squandered their lead again. Théo Hernandez showed a lack of experience when he needlessly bundled over Mason Mount in the box. Kane stepped up to the spot again, but this time blazed over. The crucial chance went begging.
England wouldn’t create any more chances of note, and it was France who will progress to face Morocco in the semi-final on Wednesday.
The victory sparked scenes of celebration across France, including on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, and in Place Masséna in Nice, with large crowds gathering in public spaces and creating DIY firework displays.
It was heartbreak for England, but France now look well-primed to go on and make history by becoming the first team to defend their World Cup title since Brazil in 1962.