France edge out Belgium 1-0 to book grand final spot

Deanna Kelley
July 11, 2018

Having gained the lead, France showed the defensive nous to nullify the threat from Belgium's Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne, closing out the game for a win that sent them to their second straight major tournament final, following their loss to Portugal in Euro 2016.

The teams have met 73 times before with Belgium winning on 30 occasions, France 24, and 19 matches drawn.

The result means France can set their sights on Moscow and a third World Cup final, where either England or Croatia stand between them and football's greatest prize, while it will be bronze at best for Belgium's golden generation.

Asked what Macron said, Mbappe replied: "President Macron said that he would see us in the semifinals, and that he was going to come back to see us with the World Cup".

This was Belgium manager Roberto Martinez's first competitive defeat as Belgium manager.

For all its possession, Belgium - the top scorers in this competition - were unable to break a robust French defense and will rue not capitalizing on its dominant first-half display.

France will now face Croatia or England in the finals. Speedy Kylian Mbappé flicked a pass through for Benjamin Pavard, who attempted to tuck the ball into the far corner. Through five matches, it looked as if they could finally deliver on their promise.

Didier Deschamps' France side failed to fire in their group matches but burst into life in the 4-3 demolition of Argentina as Mbappe overshadowed Lionel Messi and confirmed his arrival as a new superstar of the game. A pair of Diego Maradona second-half goals sank Belgium that day.

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"It was a dead ball situation which was the difference", Martinez told reporters after the game.

"When you are not particularly tall, what is important is determination, the will to score, the will to go in front of the player and that is what enabled me to get this goal", said Umtiti.

France won a free-kick on the right wing where Griezmann's delivery was flawless but Pogba's header goes over.

Hazard was risky again moments later when he cut in from the left and unleashed a rasping drive which clipped off the back of Raphael Varane and just over the bar.

Olivier Giroud provides a focal point in attack.

Defender Samuel Umtiti scored the victor in the 51st minute, beating Marouane Fellaini at the near post to head home Antoine Griezmann 's corner.

Belgium: Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen, Chadli, Dembele, Witsel, Fellaini, De Bruyne, Lukaku, Eden Hazard.

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

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