Samuel Umtiti’s headed winner has returned France to the FIFA World Cup™ Final for the third time in 20 years, sealing a 1-0 win over Belgium in Saint Petersburg.
The first half saw chances at either end, with Belgium captain Eden Hazard going close before Hugo Lloris and Thibaut Courtois denied Toby Alderweireld and Benjamin Pavard respectively to ensure the opening period ended all square.
Having seen the best chances come from defenders, it was apt that a centre-back opened the scoring. After Raphael Varane performed heroics in the quarter-finals against Uruguay, this time it was Umtiti, stealing a march on his marker Marouane Fellaini to meet Antoine Griezmann’s corner at the near post and flick a header beyond Thibaut Courtois.
Once ahead, France locked down, robbing the Red Devils’ star names of space to pick through in the final third, grinding down the clock – while looking to strike on the counter – until their place in the Moscow finale was confirmed.
Team reporter analysis
Adrien Gingold, with France [Follow on Twitter]
France continue their brilliant showing as they avoided falling into Belgium’s trap. After the Red Devils had dominated the first half, largely thanks to an awesome Eden Hazard, France took responsibility and controlled the match in the second. Didier Deschamps’ team has many faces to it, but they are all smiling now.