Samuel Umtiti headed France into the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup as the Les Bleus pipped Belgium 1-0 at Saint Petersburg stadium on Tuesday – their first final since 2006.
The quality of the encounter between France and Belgium was very high with Roberto Martinez’s men dominating possession but neither side could claim a real advantage as the halftime whistle went off.
A very balanced first period with both sides having dangerous moments in front of goal, requiring Thibaut Courtois and Hugo Lloris to make fine saves.
The first clear sight of goal went to Belgium, with Eden Hazard preying on some indecision at the back and fired low and just wide of the right post. The tempo of the match shifted in France’s favour as the match edged closer towards the break.
France with 45 percent of possession were wasteful with the golden opportunities they created.
Samuel Umtiti near-post header opened the scoring in the 51st minute for the Les Bleus. The centre-back turned the ball home from a corner after getting ahead of his marker, Marouane Fellaini.
Umtiti has joined a special club. Four of France’s last six goals in World Cup semi-finals have come from defenders: Marius Tresor (v West Germany, 1982) and Lilian Thuram (two v Croatia, 1998).
In the 61st minute, Kevin De Bruyne wasted a golden opportunity for Belgium as the ball dropped to him inside the box but he failed to connect properly with his first-time attempt which saw his effort bounced into the arms of a grateful Lloris.
France held on to book a place in the final.