World Cup 2018: France reach final after 1-0 win over Belgium

Published on: 10 July 2018

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Highlights: France 1-0 Belgium

France will face England or Croatia in the World Cup final after edging past European neighbours Belgium in the semi-final in St Petersburg.

Defender Samuel Umtiti scored the winning goal for the 1998 champions in the second half with a towering header from Antoine Griezmann's corner.

Didier Deschamps' side were on the back foot for large periods of the game, but emerged victorious to reach their third final, having been beaten by Italy on penalties in 2006.

Belgium came through the quarter-finals by impressively beating Brazil, but they were unable to find the equaliser, as Axel Witsel's powerful, long-range drive was pushed away by Hugo Lloris, who also brilliantly kept out Toby Alderweireld's turn and shot.

At the final whistle, the France substitutes ran on the pitch to celebrate with the players, while manager Deschamps was mobbed by his staff before dancing around in a circle.

England play Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow in the second semi-final on Wednesday (kick-off 19:00 BST) and the final takes places at the same venue on Sunday (16:00 BST).

    Relive France's victory over Belgium Player Rater: France v Belgium

Functional France over flair

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Umtiti heads France winner against Belgium

Twenty years ago, France won the World Cup for the first and only time in their history at home in Paris with a 3-0 win over Brazil.

That team was captained by Deschamps, who is now aiming to emulate Brazilian Mario Zagallo and Germany's Franz Beckenbauer by winning the competition as both a player and manager.

Deschamps was a holding midfielder in his day and his France side have come to characterise his playing style of functionality over flair by adopting a conservative game.

Belgium had 64% possession in the match but France kept their shape, played on the counter-attack and constantly looked to forward Kylian Mbappe, who was a constant threat with his darting runs and trickery with the ball.

The teenager, who announced himself on the global stage by scoring twice against Argentina in the last 16, played a sublime flick to put Olivier Giroud in on goal, but the Chelsea man saw his shot blocked from close range.

Although Giroud has now had 13 shots in the tournament without finding the target, he is likely to keep his place in the starting XI for the final.

Deschamps has been questioned for continuing to deploy Giroud up front in his side and has been asked why a place cannot be found for other attacking talents such as Ousmane Dembele or Thomas Lemar.

But he has answered the critics with a run to a second consecutive major tournament final after Euro 2016, when they were beaten in extra-time by Portugal.

Golden generation unable to deliver

Ranked among one of the pre-tournament favourites, there was optimism that Belgium's 'golden generation' of players containing skipper Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku could finally deliver silverware for their country.

But the win in the previous round against five-time winners Brazil proved to be their peak, and they suffered heartbreak in a major tournament once more.

The Red Devils lost in the quarter-final of both the previous World Cup and the European Championship and their second World Cup semi-final appearance ended in defeat, just like in 1986 against a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina.

The team's 24-match unbeaten run stretching back to September 2016 also came to an end, as manager Roberto Martinez suffered a first loss in a competitive game.

Ten of the 11 starters were Premier League-based and one of those - striker Lukaku of Manchester United, who was excellent against Brazil, was left stifled by France's excellent centre-back pairing of Umtiti and Raphael Varane. Lukaku had just 22 touches on the ball in the whole match - the least of any player who started.

Manchester City's De Bruyne was unable to dictate the game and although skipper Hazard started brightly, fizzing a low shot narrowly wide and another deflecting over, he too drifted out of the game.

Belgium's only consolation is that they still have one game left to play in the tournament - Saturday's third/fourth place play-off against the loser from the England v Croatia encounter.

Man of the match - Raphael Varane (France)

A dominant showing by the Real Madrid defender and he did not give Lukaku a sniffWorld Cup of set-pieces - the stats

    France have reached their third World Cup final, also doing so in 1998 and 2006. Only Germany (8) and Italy (6) have reached more among European nations. Since reaching their first in 1998, France have now reached more World Cup finals than any other nation (3). This was Belgium's first defeat of any kind since a friendly loss against Spain in September 2016. France have beaten Belgium three times in World Cup matches, more than they've beaten any other side in the competition. 44% of the goals at the 2018 World Cup have come from set piece situations (69/158, including penalties). Despite having almost two-thirds of the possession in this match (64%), Belgium attempted just nine shots - 10 fewer than France managed (19). Antoine Griezmann has been directly involved in 20 goals in his last 20 competitive games for France (12 goals, 8 assists). Griezmann has been directly involved in 13 of France's last 20 goals scored in major tournaments (World Cup and Euros), with nine goals and four assists. Only England's Harry Kane (6 goals) has been involved in more goals at the 2018 World Cup than France's Griezmann (5: 3 goals, 2 assists).
    Line-ups Match Stats Live Text

Line-ups

France

    1Lloris

    2Pavard

    4Varane

    5Umtiti

    21Hernández

    13KantéBooked at 87mins

    6Pogba

    10MbappéBooked at 90mins

    7Griezmann

    14MatuidiSubstituted forTolissoat 86'minutes

    9GiroudSubstituted forN'Zonziat 85'minutes

Substitutes

    3Kimpembe

    8Lemar

    11Dembélé

    12Tolisso

    15N'Zonzi

    16Mandanda

    17Rami

    18Fekir

    19Sidibe

    20Thauvin

    22Mendy

    23Areola

Belgium

    1Courtois

    22ChadliSubstituted forBatshuayiat 90+1'minutes

    2AlderweireldBooked at 71mins

    4Kompany

    5VertonghenBooked at 90mins

    6Witsel

    19DembéléSubstituted forMertensat 60'minutes

    7De Bruyne

    8FellainiSubstituted forCarrascoat 80'minutes

    10E HazardBooked at 63mins

    9Lukaku

Substitutes

    3Vermaelen

    11Carrasco

    12Mignolet

    13Casteels

    14Mertens

    16T Hazard

    17Tielemans

    18Januzaj

    20Boyata

    21Batshuayi

    23Dendoncker

Referee:

Andrés Cunha

Attendance:

64,286

Match Stats

Home TeamFranceAway TeamBelgium

Possession

Home36%

Away64%

Shots

Home19

Away9

Shots on Target

Home5

Away3

Corners

Home4

Away5

Fouls

Home6

Away16

Live Text

Posted at

Match ends, France 1, Belgium 0.

Full TimePosted at 90'+7'

Second Half ends, France 1, Belgium 0.

Posted at 90'+7'

Yannick Carrasco (Belgium) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at 90'+7'

Foul by Paul Pogba (France).

Posted at 90'+6'

Corner, France. Conceded by Thibaut Courtois.

Posted at 90'+6'

Attempt saved. Corentin Tolisso (France) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Paul Pogba.

BookingPosted at 90'+4'

Jan Vertonghen (Belgium) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Posted at 90'+4'

Foul by Jan Vertonghen (Belgium).

Posted at 90'+4'

Kylian Mbappé (France) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Posted at 90'+3'

Attempt saved. Antoine Griezmann (France) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Paul Pogba.

BookingPosted at 90'+2'

Kylian Mbappé (France) is shown the yellow card.

SubstitutionPosted at 90'+1'

Substitution, Belgium. Michy Batshuayi replaces Nacer Chadli.

Posted at 90'+1'

Foul by Nacer Chadli (Belgium).

Posted at 90'+1'

Paul Pogba (France) wins a free kick on the left wing.

BookingPosted at 87'

N'Golo Kanté (France) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Posted at 87'

Eden Hazard (Belgium) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Posted at 87'

Foul by N'Golo Kanté (France).

SubstitutionPosted at 86'

Substitution, France. Corentin Tolisso replaces Blaise Matuidi because of an injury.

Posted at 86'

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Posted at 86'

Delay in match Blaise Matuidi (France) because of an injury.

SubstitutionPosted at 85'

Substitution, France. Steven N'Zonzi replaces Olivier Giroud.

Posted at 83'

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Posted at 82'

Delay in match Eden Hazard (Belgium) because of an injury.

Posted at 82'

Delay in match Blaise Matuidi (France) because of an injury.

Posted at 81'

Attempt saved. Axel Witsel (Belgium) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

SubstitutionPosted at 80'

Substitution, Belgium. Yannick Carrasco replaces Marouane Fellaini.

Posted at 79'

Attempt missed. Paul Pogba (France) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Antoine Griezmann with a cross following a set piece situation.

Posted at 78'

Foul by Marouane Fellaini (Belgium).

Posted at 78'

Kylian Mbappé (France) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Posted at 76'

Attempt missed. Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Eden Hazard.

Posted at 75'

Axel Witsel (Belgium) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at 75'

Foul by Olivier Giroud (France).

Posted at 74'

Foul by Axel Witsel (Belgium).

Posted at 74'

Antoine Griezmann (France) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at 71'

Offside, France. Samuel Umtiti tries a through ball, but Antoine Griezmann is caught offside.

BookingPosted at 71'

Toby Alderweireld (Belgium) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Posted at 71'

Foul by Toby Alderweireld (Belgium).

Posted at 71'

Blaise Matuidi (France) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Posted at 68'

Foul by Dries Mertens (Belgium).

Posted at 68'

Antoine Griezmann (France) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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Source: bbc.com

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