Umtiti header sends France into World Cup final
France beat Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday to book a place in the World Cup final against either England or Croatia, thanks to a headed goal from defender Samuel Umtiti in the 51st minute.
In a pulsating semi-final worthy of the teams’ reputations, Umtiti rose high at the near post to head an Antoine Griezmann corner past keeper Thibaut Courtois.
It was enough to take France to the final for the first time since 1998, when they won their only World Cup as hosts of the tournament.
Belgium, playing in their second World Cup semi-final after one in 1986, piled on the pressure and came close with a Marouane Fellaini header in the 65th minute and a string of other chances.
But they could not find an equaliser despite having netted 14 times in their previous five games in the tournament.
The first real opening came in the 16th minute when De Bruyne hooked the ball into the path of Hazard whose shot was just wide of Huge Lloris’s far post.
Hazard was dangerous again moments later when he cut in from the left and unleashed a rasping drive which clipped off the back of Raphael Varane and just over the bar.
From a Belgium corner, Toby Alderweireld tested Lloris with a smart shot on the turn but as the half progressed France began to create more.
Olivier Giroud flashed a header just wide and Mbappe set up Benjamin Pavard whose low shot was kept out by the outstretched leg of Courtois.
It was a fascinating first half and all that was missing was a goal but one came soon after the break.
From Griezmann’s corner, Umtiti beat Marouane Fellaini at the near post and powered a header home to put France ahead.
Fellaini flashed a header just wide and Axel Witsel forced a good save out of Lloris as Belgium pushed forward for an equaliser and France hung on in six minutes of stoppage time to book their place in the final.