France Reaches World Cup 2018 Final After 1-0 Win Over Belgium
France reached its third FIFA World Cup final on Tuesday after defeating Belgium 1-0 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Samuel Umtiti scored for Les Bleus on a 51st-minute header off a corner kick from Antoine Griezmann. Umtiti beat Marouane Fellaini for the header that got past goalie Thibaut Courtois. France will face the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal — England or Croatia — in Sunday’s final in Moscow.
The French squad is seeking it second World Cup trophy after winning in 1998, the year France hosted. Belgium, who has never won the tournament, will now have to wait at least four more years for its first title.
Eden Hazard proved to be one of Belgium’s strongest players on Tuesday: the Chelsea forward made several threatening drives with the ball and shots throughout the game, but couldn’t finish. Belgium’s other top starts, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, did not contribute to the team as much as they did in their previous game against Brazil. De Bruyne helped set up some plays and had a solid strike or two on target, but Umtiti, Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé and the rest of France’s offense proved too powerful for Belgium. Mbappé was tackled to the ground a lot in this game, which included so many injuries that a whopping six minutes were added for second-half stoppage time.
Paul Pogba also delivered a solid defensive performance for France, as did Umtiti and Raphael Varane. France had more shots in the first half, although Belgium dominated possession.
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France also reached the World Cup final in Germany in 2006, but lost to Italy on penalties after a 1-1 tie in regulation. Zinedine Zidane famously earned a red card in that game, his last international contest with France, after head-butting Italy’s Marco Materazzi.