World Cup 2022

England vs France: four most memorable meetings


England and France will clash at Al-Bayt Stadium on Saturday night in a mouthwatering World Cup quarter-final.

Amazingly, this’ll be their first-ever meeting in the knockout stages at a major tournament.

In fact, the Three Lions have les Bleus, historic rivals separated only by The Channel, have met just seven times in competitive football.

Here’s a look back at their four most memorable meetings; the Euro ‘64 qualifiers and a goalless draw at Euro ‘92, when both were eliminated, have not made the cut.

Fans of Le Tournoi may also be disappointed!

England vs France: Head to head competitive record

England wins: 2. France wins: 2. Draws: 3.

England vs France: Seven competitive meetings

11 June 2012. France 1-1 England. European Championships group stage. Donbass Arena.

13 June 2004. France 2-1 England. European Championships group stage. Estádio da Luz.

14 June 1992. France 0-0 England. European Championships group stage. Malmö Stadion.

16 June 1982. England 3-1 France. World Cup group stage. Estadio San Mamés.

20 July 1966. England 2-0 France. World Cup group stage. Wembley Stadium.

27 February 1963. France 5-2 England. European Championships preliminary round. Parc de Princes.

3 October 1962. England 1-1 France. European Championships preliminary round. Hillsborough Stadium.

England 3-1 France: World Cup group stages 1982

England and France haven’t met at a World Cup for 40 years, a streak that’ll finally end this weekend in Qatar.

Back at Spain ‘82, the two began their group stage campaign against one-another in Bilbao.

In that one, Bryan Robson scored England’s fastest-ever goal, timed at 27 seconds, volleying home after Terry Butcher’s flick-on.

This remained the fastest goal in World Cup history, until Hakan Şükür broke the record in 2002′s third-place play-off.

Back in 1982, Gérard Soler actually equalised for France, before Robson bagged his second, with Paul Mariner sealing England’s win late on.

The Three Lions won all three matches in this group, also beating Czechoslovakia and Kuwait, before falling to West Germany in the second round.

France meantime, despite only winning once in Group 4, then saw off Austria and Northern Ireland, before also falling to the Germans in an epic semi-final.

40 years on, England would love a repeat of this 3-1 victory.

France 2-1 England: European Championships group stages 2004

Euro 2004 was arguably when England’s golden generation were at their peak.

Sven-Göran Eriksson’s team went into that tournament with high hopes, but were up against the reigning champions in their opener.

England looked set for a statement victory, taking the lead through Frank Lampard’s header, nodding home a trademark David Beckham free-kick.

Then, with 17 minutes to go, Wayne Rooney raced clear, only to be scythed down by Mikaël Silvestre: penalty!

Beckham stepped up... but his effort was clawed away by Fabien Barthez

Nevertheless, the Three Lions were still in front going into additional time; can they hold on?

No. Not with Zinedine Zidane around they can’t.

Just as the clocks struck 90, Zizou fired home a beautiful free-kick, but he wasn’t done there.

Two minutes later, Steven Gerrard plays a blind back-pass, which falls straight at the feet of Thierry Henry, who is clattered to the floor by David James.

So Zidane, with the very last kick of the night, cooly slotted home, grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat.

Both teams ultimately made it out of the group, with both beaten in the quarter-finals.

England were dumped out by Portugal on penalties, with France going out to eventual winners Greece. Yes Greece!

Saturday’s clash in Al Khor will do well to be quite as dramatic as this match from 18 years ago

England 2-0 France: World Cup group stages 1966

Every English football fan knows that 1966 ended in glory, and the first signs that this might be the possible were evident in a group stage match with France.

Sir Alf Ramsey’s team were held to a goalless draw by Uruguay in their tournament opener, before a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Mexico.

So, going into their final game, the hosts needed a result to ensure their place in the knockout stages.

According to reports at the time, this was England’s first impressive performance of the campaign, beating France 2-0, courtesy of Roger Hunt’s double.

The first was a rebound, after Jack Charlton’s effort had hit the post, before Hunt headed home Ian Callaghan’s cross later on.

England would go onto beat Argentina and Portugal in the knockout phase before, as everybody knows, ousting West Germany in the final after extra time.

This France victory was star forward Jimmy Greaves’ last appearance at the tournament due to injury, with Geoff Hurst taking his place, to great effect.

For les Bleus, 1966 represents their joint-worst showing at a World Cup, alongside 2002 and 2010.

France 1-1 England: European Championships group stages 2012

The most-recent of England and France’s competitive meetings came in the group stages of Euro 2012.

After both nations had disappointed at the last Euros, England not even qualifying, and in South Africa, expectations were relatively low.

Nevertheless, with co-hosts and debutants Ukraine, as well as Sweden completing Group D, both were expecting to advance.

In truth, it was a low-quality affair at Donbass Arena, ultimately ending 1-1.

The deadlock was broken after half an hour; Joleon Lescott’s towering header getting on the end of Steven Gerrard’s free-kick.

However, the lead lasted just seven minutes, courtesy of Samir Nasri’s strike, beating Joe Hart at his near-post.

These two did get out the group but, unsurprisingly, both were beaten in the first knockout round, losing to the eventual finalists Spain and Italy respectively.

A decade on, England and France are considerably stronger now, so should put on far more of a show when they meet for a place in the World Cup semi-finals on Saturday.


Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".



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