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Umtiti header sends streetwise France into World Cup final

11 July 2018

Notable: Kylian Mbappe is the first teenager to score twice in a World Cup match since Pele did it against Sweden in 1958.

France are through to the World Cup final after they beat Belgium 1-0 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

"Vive la France! Vive la Republique!"

Only Harry Kane (six goals) has been involved in more goals at this World Cup than Antoine Griezmann (three goals, two assists).

The first yellow card of the game was issued to Belgium's Eden Hazard, who pulls Matuidi to ground to prevent a France counter-attack and shortly following was Alderweireld who picked up Belgium's second booking. "If you are going to have to lose such a match, which is bearable, it is the manner in which our players lost, pushing for everything, trying everything until the final whistle". "I think England could be in the final", said Whelan. "It was so painful two years ago we have to savor it".

Deschamps, coach at Euro 2016 and captain of the 1998 World Cup winners, suggested as much.

Didier Deschamps' men ended the opening period on top, but again Olivier Giroud looked short of confidence as the focal point of the French attack.

They're expected to field their strongest teams for this one.

Roberto Martinez devised a flawless plan to achieve these goals.

Up in the corporate seats, French President Emmanuel Macron reacted to the goal by shaking the hand of King Philippe of Belgium as Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino watched on between them.

Martinez added: "The difference between defeat and winning was down to one dead-ball situation. The game was very close, very tight and it was going to be decided by a little bit of luck in front of goal", he said.

RTBF is airing the World Cup in Belgium, where the main supermarket chain there, Delhaize, is closing an hour early tonight so its employees can watch the 8 PM game.

At the helm for almost six years, a fundamental flaw of the French under his reign has been the inability to score goals in crucial knockout games.

His best chance arrived via more good work from Mbappe with a cushioned cross, but the Chelsea striker could only slice horribly wide on his favoured left foot. His first touch was after 10 seconds and, after receiving the ball on the right wing, he sped past Jan Vertonghen and then Mousa Dembele in a thrilling run.

France right back Pavard, 22, was a surprise inclusion in their squad, but he has had an excellent World Cup so far, capped by him scoring one of the goals of the tournament in the 4-2 win over Argentina.

"It's a pure pleasure to see these players grow", Deschamps said, "and never give up".

As is the case in the geographic sense, in which France and Belgium share a border, there's no apparent distance between the teams. In fact, four of Belgium's five games have witnessed over 2.5 goals scored.

Belgium will remain in Saint Petersburg for Saturday's play-off against the losers on Wednesday's semi-final between England and Croatia.

Umtiti header sends streetwise France into World Cup final