France reach 2018 World Cup final, beat Belgium 1-0
11 July, 2018, 08:51 | Author: Cecil Buchanan
World Cup favourites France are targeting the final in Russian Federation two decades after their 1998 triumph with one of their greatest players, Thierry Henry, plotting their downfall from the dugout of opponents Belgium.
While Les Bleus prepare to face either England or Croatia for the sport's biggest prize, Belgium must compete in the third-place playoff Saturday having suffered a first defeat in two years.
Hugo Lloris produced another accomplished performance between the sticks for France, and the goalkeeper's display has cemented his spot as the favourite to win the Golden Glove at this World Cup, but while the Tottenham Hotspur stopper shined, Belgium's Romelu Lukau's quest to catch Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot ended.
Mbappe, Hazard and Neymar were identified as the most likely targets and after his performance in the World Cup semi-final, the exceptional French youngster seems like the flawless fit for Ronaldo's shoes.
The Chelsea star interchanged positions with Kevin de Bruyne in the opening minutes and the French backline scrambled to negotiate the incoming raids.
Belgium threatened down the flanks and Eden Hazard put in a risky cross which was turned behind by Umtiti - though the resulting corner was wasted by Nacer Chadli, playing in an unfamiliar right-back role.
Two minutes later, the Real Madrid defender was in position again to divert a unsafe cross from de Bruyne.
Alex Witsel fired a stinging shot to Lloris who punched the ball away from the net.
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Benjamin Pavard went closer with a shot Courtois saved with his outstretched foot after Mbappe had hypnotized the Belgian defense.
The half started with an Umtiti mistake but he quickly averted danger by conceding a corner.
Umtiti beat Marouane Fellaini to an Antoine Griezmann cross he headed what would prove to be the decider.
Even through the first 30 minutes in St. Petersburg, this side had looked different, carving out chances and containing France's counterattacks. It was one of Dembele's last acts as Dries Mertens came on for the midfielder as Belgium chased an equaliser. Alderweireld blasted over from distance as France kept their back door securely fastened. Matuidi had to be subbed off after a sickening collision with Hazard.
Another quick steal and counter gave Giroud another shooting but he blasted high and wide with the game looking more like a Chess game. He also wasn't the only Belgian player to disappoint on the night.
The victor of France vs Belgium will take on the victor of tomorrow's England vs Croatia game.
Lukaku missed the ball in the box on 88 minutes from a driven cross by De Bruyne.
Belgium lead World Cup 2018 in goals through the quarterfinals with 14, but don't expect the Red Devils to run wild against the well-balanced France team.
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The Chelsea defensive midfielder has covered enormous amounts of ground in this World Cup, but it's not just about distance run. Blaise Matuidi was suspended for France's 2-0 quarterfinal win over Uruguay, but he is expected to return to the lineup.
I am sure that they will show this same attitude against Croatia . "They are an exhaustive team, they know how to do everything". France and Belgium play on the other side of the draw first, with their game scheduled to take place on Tuesday (7pm).
The 40-year-old 2006 World Cup victor joins the big-spending Parisian side days after his contract with Juventus ended in June. He would become the first signing under the new PSG manager, Thomas Tuchel, who replaced now-Arsenal boss Unai Emery.
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