While England might have been smelling the chance to make real history in Qatar this month, the Three Lions suffered more World Cup heartbreak as they suffered a 2-1 loss at the hands of France on Saturday night.
Although Harry Kane might have dragged England level after converting from the penalty spot nine minutes after the break following Aurelien Tchouameni’s stunning first-half opener, the Tottenham ace quickly came crashing back down to earth.
Watching Olivier Giroud hand the defending world champions a late advantage after powering home from close range in the final moments, Kane was then awarded the chance to steal all of the headlines in the Middle East.
However, while the 29-year-old might have cooly slotted home from 12 yards minutes after returning from the break, England’s skipper was unable to replicate his early effort as he blazed over Hugo Lloris’ crossbar.
Falling to their knees at the final whistle and feeling hard done by following a string of controversial calls from Brazilian referee Wilton Sampaio, we have taken a glance at the key talking points.
Is this the end of the road for Southgate?
Watching both Brazil and Portugal shockingly come crashing out of the year’s tournament prior to their showdown on Saturday night, many felt that England had a golden chance to make real history this month.
However, while the Three Lions might have been desperate to go one step further than their European Championship heartbreak against Italy last year, their Qatar quest will be remembered as another missed chance.
Although Gareth Southgate’s side might have cruised their way to the quarter-finals without breaking much of a sweat in Qatar, there will once again be plenty of pressure on the 52-year-old’s shoulders.
Often criticized for his pragmatic approach, it has been no secret that many feel that England’s current crop of attacking superstars will be better suited in a system that lets them play on the front foot.
Nevertheless, while the Three Lions might have caused France a host of issues on Saturday, it is another major tournament that has passed them by.
Now falling short on the last three major tournaments following their semi-final exit in Russia four years ago, could England be looking to start a new chapter over the coming weeks?
France can make real history this month
While France might have endured a real crisis over the past month after watching the likes of Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku withdraw from their squad at the eleventh hour, the European giants have enjoyed an eye-catching winter adventure.
Booking their showdown on Saturday night after picking up a routine 3-1 victory against Poland last week, the defending champions should now be smelling the chance to make even more history in the Middle East.
Watching on as the likes of Brazil, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Uruguay all fell by the wayside, Didier Deschamps’ men have been handed what is a favourable path to December 18th.
With the red-hot Kylian Mbappe only continuing to shine this winter after already notching five World Cup strikes, Les Bleus could become the first defending champions to retain their crown in almost six decades.
Coming through what was a real test against their British rivals here, France will now have all their attention focused on their semi-final battle against Morocco on Wednesday night.
Although Deschamps’ camp might have recorded just a single clean sheet from any of their last 11 appearances across all competitions, they will be tipped as a leading contender in Qatar.
Heartbreak for Kane on the biggest stage
After finally opening his World Cup account at the fourth attempt last week as England picked up a 3-0 romp against Senegal, England were desperate for Kane to use that display as a platform to build on.
However, while the Three Lions’ skipper might have powered home his first penalty nine minutes after returning from the half-time break, Kane came crashing back down to earth after handing England more spot-kick heartbreak.
Although the 29-year-old might have moved level with Wayne Rooney’s all-time record on Saturday night, Southgate’s attacking talisman couldn’t have wished for a more disappointing ending in Qatar.
Blazing his second attempt high over Lloris’s crossbar and squandering a potentially iconic World Cup moment, Kane’s role this winter has once again seen him and Southgate come under intense scrutiny.
Once again heavily featuring outside the 18-yard box here, it doesn’t feel that Spurs’ sharp-shooter is utilized to his full potential in his deeper-lying position.
Leaving the Middle East with just a single goal from open play, could Kane’s position going forward be under some threat?
England: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Henderson, Rice, Bellingham, Foden, Saka, Kane
Subs: Grealish, Mount, Sterling, Rashford
France: Lloris, Kounde, Varane, Upamecano, Hernandez, Rabiot, Tchouameni, Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe, Giroud
Goals: England: Kane (54′ pen) – France: Tchouameni (17′), Giroud (78′)
Yellow Cards: England: Maguire – France: Dembele, Hernandez, Griezmann
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Wilton Sampaio
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