'One set play the difference', beomans Belgium's Roberto Martinez

'One set play the difference', beomans Belgium's Roberto Martinez

Samuel Umtiti headed France into the World Cup final in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday with a 1-0 win, consigning Belgium's "golden generation" to another bitter disappointment.

France will now head to Moscow to meet on Sunday the winners of Wednesday's other semi-final pairing, between England and Croatia. The French team has one star on their jerseys to commemorate their World Cup victory in 1998.

France can begin to prepare for the final at the Luzhniki Stadium, eager to avoid a repeat of 2006 when they were beaten by Italy on penalties in Berlin and the pain of the loss to Portugal on home soil in 2016.

Fortunately, skipper Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will all still be in their 20s by the time the next European Championship comes around in 2020.

"It was a very tight game".

Both sides had plenty of chances, with France taking 19 shots to Belgium's nine, but only Umtiti's 51st-minute header following Antoine Griezmann's corner found the back of the net.

France's football-loving President Emmanuel Macron and Belgian King Philippe were watching from the stands, along with Rolling Stones front-man Sir Mick Jagger.

France President Emmanuel Macron was on hand for the game in St Petersburg and came down to the dressing room to celebrate with the players and staff.


The goal capped an impressive defensive display by Umtiti, who helped to shut out the most productive attack in the World Cup with 14 goals, and meant three defenders have now scored on France's route to the final.

Having become the second youngest player after Pele to score 2 goals in a match, his scintillating pace blew away the Argentinian side quite successfully in the Round of 16.

Belgium threw bodies forward and sent several crosses into the box in the closing minutes, but none produced particularly unsafe chances.

And Lloris said at a pre-match press conference streamed on FIFA's official website: "They are an exhaustive team, they know how to do everything".

And the presence of French World Cup victor Thierry Henry on the Belgian coaching staff as one of Martinez's assistants adds extra spice to the occasion.

"Vive la France! Vive la Republique!"

Mbappe was lethal in France's 4-3 Round of 16 win over Argentina, using his pace to devastating effect, but Martinez said his side would not make the mistake of focusing exclusively on one player.

Yet while Hazard - Belgium's captain - faded after a strong opening 30 minutes, Mbappe was a constant threat.

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