Belgium sent packing by Umtiti goal – 2018 FIFA World Cup
Antoine Griezmann of France (R) and Moussa Dembele of Belgium in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 semi final soccer match between France and Belgium in St.Petersburg, Russia, 10 July 2018.
Tuesday Jul 10, 2018. 22:10
France booked their place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup final after beating Belgium 1-0 in a semi-final match which was played at the Krestovsky Stadium in Russia on Tuesday.
The Blues will now face either England or Croatia in the final on Saturday, while the Red Devils will take part in the third-place play-off match.
The highly-anticipated match got off to a lively start and both goalkeepers were called into action within the first 25 minutes of the game.
France midfielder Blaise Matuidi tried his luck from range with a powerful left-footed shot from 25 yards out in the 18th minute.
However, the Juventus midfield maestro’s attempt went straight at Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who made a comfortable save.
Belgium then pushed forward and four minutes later, they came close to scoring through their hard-tackling defender Toby Alderweireld.
The Tottenham Hotspur central defender pulled the trigger from range and his effort was brilliantly parried away by his club team-mate and France keeper Hugo Lloris.
The Blues were awarded a free-kick in a promising area on the half-hour mark and it was cleverly played by the 1998 World Cup winners.
Antoine Griezmann played it to Benjamin Pavard, who bend it in for Olivier Giroud, but the France forward placed his effort wide of the target.
France took control of the game towards the half-time break and they nearly scored through their lively right-back Pavard in the 40th minute.
Kylian Mbappe set-up Pavard, who looked to beat Courtois at the far post, but the Belgium shot-stopper diverted the ball wide of the target.
The Red Devils then contained the Blues until Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha blew the half-time whistle and the score was 0-0 at the interval.
The deadlock was finally broken six minutes into the second-half after the Red Devils was caught napping.
Griezmann whipped a corner-kick into the Belgium box and Samuel Umtiti rose highest in the area to head home making it 1-0 France.
Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez reacted by introducing Dries Mertens on the hour-mark as the Red Devils looked to level matters.
The SSC Napoli attacking midfielder tried to make an immediate as his cross found Mauroane Fellani who headed the ball inches wide of the target in the 65th minute.
The Red Devils continued to launch attacks in the closing stages of the game, but the Blues defence which was led by Raphael Varane looked solid and impenetrable.
Fellani found some space outside the France box in the 81st minute and the Manchester United midfielder tried his luck from range , but his was easily saved by Lloris.
The Blues then stood firm at the back in the dying minutes of the game and uktimately, France emerged 1-0 winners over Belgium.
France (0) 1 (Umtiti 51′)
Belgium (0) 0
France: Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, L. Hernandez, Pogba, Kante, Matuidi (Tolisso 86′), Mbappe, Giroud (Nzonzi 85′) Griezmann.
Belgium: Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen, Chadli (Batshuayi 90’+1), Fellaini (Carrasco 80′) Dembele (Mertens 60′), Witsel, De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku.