2018 FIFA World Cup: France 1-0 Belgium

France's Samuel Umtiti scores their first goal. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Samuel Umtiti’s header proved to be the defining difference as France beat Belgium 1-0 to reach their third FIFA World Cup Final.

After a tightly fought first half, Umtiti headed home a 51st minute corner to deny Belgium their first ever major final.

France in fact started the strongest when Kylian Mbappe sped down Belgium’s left, before a cross to Antoine Griezmann was cleared just 15 seconds into match.  

Both teams then had several chances throughout the first half, with Belgium going closest when Kevin de Bruyne’s 20th minute cross to Marouane Fellaini was punched clear by Hugo Lloris.

After the break, Belgium started on front foot but were undone by their usual trademark quality after Umtiti beat Fellaini at near post to guide his header into centre of net, catching part of Fellaini’s afro along the way.

With a goal secured, Les Bleus sat back and let Belgium dominate as they searched for that equaliser.

Fellaini put Dries Mertens cross wide from close range, their best chance came from Axel Witsel in 81st minute. 

The Tianjin Quanjian midfielder produced a long range strike from outside box but Lloris was alert to punch it clear. 

As Belgium started to become desperate, France dialled up their attack again in injury time, with Paul Pogba playing a short pass to Griezmann who soon found space but shot straight at Thibaut Courtois.  

Sub, Corentin Tolisso then tried to finish the game off in final minute but Courtois again saved with final whistle soon following. 

The result means that France will play in Sunday’s final whilst Belgium will meet the loser of Croatia/England match in the third place play off on Saturday. 

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