France advances to World Cup final, beats Belgium 1-0


Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera fumbled a shot from Antoine Griezmann as France booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals.

This is not to say that France have parked the bus, a la Jose Mourinho, or have been pegged back by superior sides.

France heads a corner and does nothing more than defend. Deschamps' need to be defensive-minded was finally warranted against a Belgium side which have scored the most goals -14 - at the tournament.

Long considered the a lesser footballing nation than its neighbor the Netherlands - whose orange-clad teams have reached three World Cup finals and lost them all - this Belgium team has at least dispelled the Dutch shadow.

Deschamps also emphasized on the work put in by the team in their preparations ahead of the game. However, Matuidi will always be remembered for the bewildered expression on his face after being knocked out on the ground. That allowed Pogba to mark Marouane Fellaini preventing his United teammate to get on the end of crosses that Nacer Chadli and Kevin de Bruyne swung in. For the second match in succession, a central defender, Samuel Umtiti, opened the scoring for France in the World Cup.

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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.

It proved an effective approach, but one that has drawn criticism from Belgium's goalkeeper Courtois as well as captain Eden Hazard. The match ended 1-0 for France.

Quoted by Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Hazard said: "I prefer to lose with this Belgium than win with this France. That little moment of magic needed to score was not there".

At 19, Mbappe wasn't even born when France won the World Cup for the first and only time with a squad that is just as diverse as the one Deschamps is leading 20 years later. It was an unlikely goalscorer Umitti became the hero of France for the day and spoiled the party for Belgium.

"We have worked a lot in defence and and the attack". Martinez added: "It is a difficult emotion to manage - you are disappointed because you have lost the semifinal, and it is hard to see the opportunity of playing another game as a real positive".

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France started the tournament in Russian Federation slowly, struggling for goals in the group stages but hit their stride in an impressive 4-3 victory against Lionel Messi's Argentina in the first knockout round. A different manager would have unleashed this side's attacking prowess in the group stage and laid down the gauntlet for other teams. France were in the final of the Euros, but I don't want any of my players to be frustrated or disappointed.

On Sunday, France will start as favourites to win the title regardless of who between England and Croatia makes it to the summit clash. Should he win, Deschamps will go down as France's best-ever footballing sons in history.

Kylian Mbappe (left) scored twice as France knocked Argentina out of the World Cup in Kazan.

The French danced on the field after the final whistle and shook the hand of Thierry Henry, who helped Les Bleus win the World Cup in 1998 but had been hoping to eliminate his native country as Belgium's assistant coach.

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