World Cup 2018: France beat Belgium to reach final
July 11, 2018 01:33 am
France is into the World Cup final after a tense 1-0 win over Belgium in an electric semi-final clash in St Petersburg.
Samuel Umtiti proved to be the difference as he rose highest at the near post to plant a header home from a corner past Thibaut Courtois.
Both keepers had kept things level in heroic fashion in the first half, with France’s Hugo Lloris pulling off a blinder to keep Toby Alderweireld’s pivot-and-shoot out at full stretch.
Courtois then stood up for Belgium, saving low at close range when French full-back Benjamin Pavard broke free in the area.
Belgium pressed late but could not find the equaliser, but France fashioned the biggest chance for a second as Corentin Tolliso’s late shot was saved again by Courtois.
France would however march on, progressing to the final for a chance at repeating its 1998 title-winning heroics.
It means the 1998 World Cup winners will play either England or Croatia in the final on Sunday.
The remaining semi-final takes place at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday, with the Three Lions looking to make it to the final for the first time since 1966.
France will be the favourites to win the title after a strong performance against a star-studded Belgium side featuring the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku.
Umtiti rose brilliantly to shrug off Marouane Fellaini and head in Antoine Griezmann’s corner for his first goal of the tournament.