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France Beat Belgium To Reach World Cup Final

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 10: Kylian Mbappe of France celebrates following his sides victory in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Semi Final match between Belgium and France at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 10, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
France Beat Belgium To Reach World Cup Final

A Samuel Umtiti header proved to be the difference between France and Belgium. The Barcelona defender beat Marrouane Fellaini in the air to head home to only goal of the game six minutes into the second half and send his nation into the World Cup final.

The Belgians took the game to France in the opening stages with Eden Hazard finding himself in behind Benjamin Pavard, but the Chelsea man could only screw the ball wide of the far post.

The 27-year-old was a thorn in the side of the French defence, taking any given opportunity to run at Pavard and cause havoc down the left; he came inches away from giving Belgium the lead once again, but Raphael Varane put his head on the line to deflect an effort over the bar after Hazard chopped inside and fizzed the ball goalwards with his right foot.

Didier Deschamps’ men gradually grew into the game as Olivier Giroud headed past the post and Pavard had his shot stopped agonizingly by the outstretched foot of Thibaut Courtois after Kylian Mpabbe slipped him in.

Umtiti broke the deadlock just minutes after the break when he got on the end of an Antione Griezmann corner to beat Courtois from close range.

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Roberto Martinez introduced Dries Mertens in place of Mousa Dembélé in order to offer more width down the right with De Bruyne getting on the ball in central areas, but it was to no real effect as the French defence got in the way of everything.

The pairing of Varane and Umtiti proved too much for the Belgian attackers and the French team packed central areas in order to force Belgium to attack from wide areas.

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An Axel Witsel drive from distance was saved comfortably by Hugo Lloris and Courtois made an even better save in injury time when he got down to somehow tip a Corentin Tolisso effort around the post.

France will meet either Croatia or England in Sunday’s final in Moscow. It’s their second final in two consecutive tournaments, and they’ll be out to put demons to bed after losing to Portugal on their own turf in 2016.

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@alexclapham

An Englishman that is a coach and analyst within the youth academy of a Spanish club whilst studying Sports Coaching. Obsessive over the tactical concepts of the European game, Alex regularly attends games in the La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A.

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