Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Sports | By Johanna Francis

France beat Belgium 1-0 to reach final

France beat Belgium 1-0 to reach final

After the match, Belgium boss Roberto Martinez said his team wanted to win the third-place play-off to finish the tournament "on a real high". Paul Pogba will go against Marouane Fellaini.

After reaching the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup and the European Championship in 2016, Belgium again missed the chance to get to an worldwide final and has yet to fulfil its lofty expectations.

Henry, 40, won the World Cup with France 20 years ago.

France punched a ticket to its third ever World Cup final after a second-half goal from Samuel Umtiti lifted Les Bleus past a talented Belgium side many had picked as favorites to win the tournament.

Belgium threw everything they could muster at the French but were unable to really test Lloris, aside from one speculative long range effort from Axel Witsel.

Belgium enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening exchanges and almost drew first blood in the 15th minute when Eden Hazard flashed his shot across goal after Kevin de Bruyne's inventive flick had presented the Chelsea winger with a sight of goal. With the array of talent on display in Didier Deschamps' team, expectations had been high that France would arrive in Russian Federation and treat us to a display of dazzling Francophone soccer, courtesy of decorated stars like Griezmann, Pogba, Giroud, and Mbappe'.

"Vive la France! Vive la Republique!" I don't think it's a case of us not being focused enough.

"We showed character and mentality, it was very hard for us tonight".

Deschamps, coach at Euro 2016 and captain of the 1998 World Cup winners, suggested as much.

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The misgivings with regard to France was on the tactical balance and choice of players Didier Deschamps would start with. The difference between winning and losing came down to one dead-ball situation.

"We couldn't find the little bit of magic in front of goal or a little bit of luck at times". Along with Eden Hazard's free role, this completely bamboozled Brazil - even causing Fernandinho, usually so dominant, to twist and turn helplessly.

The first real opening came in the 16th minute when De Bruyne hooked the ball into the path of Hazard whose shot was just wide of Huge Lloris's far post. His first touch was after 10 seconds and, after receiving the ball on the right wing, he sped past Jan Vertonghen and then Mousa Dembele in a thrilling run.

France and Belgium will meet in the 2018 FIFA World Cup semifinals later today in St. Petersburg, Russia, pitting the neighboring countries (the game is being billed as "La Fête des Voisins", or The Neighbors' Party) against each other for a chance to play for the title Sunday against the victor of Wednesday's England-Croatia matchup.

Umtiti was born in Cameroon.

"It's a pure pleasure to see these players grow", Deschamps said, "and never give up".

Noted Hazard, after Belgium's sensational last-gasp 3-2 round of sixteen win against Japan.

On Wednesday, the Croatia vs. England game is also being broadcast on a combination of Fox and Telemundo.

Mick Jagger was one of the many famous faces in the stands at St. Petersburg Stadium.

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