Umtiti heads France in front of Belgium in WC semi

Umtiti heads France in front of Belgium in WC semi

Long considered the a lesser footballing nation than its neighbour 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. Meunier has been effective for Belgium, but hasn't shown the flash and talent that make him successful in France. Hindustan Times delivers the news across all social media platforms, on the web, and at your doorstep.

In a tournament dominated by goals from set pieces, France took the lead from a corner.

Belgium threatened several times, sending crosses into the box repeatedly over the final 45 minutes and into stoppage time, but could not beat Lloris for an equalizer.

Croatia have been forced into extra-time and penalties in their last two matches, and England will be hoping fatigue may play a part to help tip the tie in their favour.

But the potent Belgian attack gradually faded as France's rock-solid defense handed Belgium its first shutout of the tournament.

The world now gets to see France's luxury squad, collectively valued in excess of $1 billion and headlined by teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, in another major final.

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Mbappe, Hazard and Neymar were identified as the most likely targets and after his performance in the World Cup semi-final, the exceptional French youngster seems like the flawless fit for Ronaldo's shoes. In 2006, they were beaten in a penalty shootout by Italy in a World Cup final that was overshadowed by Zidane headbutting opposing player Marco Materazzi in the chest in extra time.

A Umtiti header found the back of the net on a corner kick 51 minutes in for the match's lone goal, and he and his fellow defenders kept Belgium from threatening much. "I think his heart will be split tomorrow because before anything he remains French". "For him tomorrow it could be a bit hard, but he works for Belgium now, he wants us to win".

Giroud was again in the action when a wonderful Mbappe backheel sent him through in space, but the Chelsea striker's Russia World Cup goal drought continued when Moussa Dembele put in a last-ditch block.

Martinez has overseen a run of 19 wins and five draws, culminating in an impressive 2-1 victory over Brazil in the quarter-finals.

"It will be weird to have him up against us", Giroud said.

France who were more than happy to play on the counter attack, always looked a danger especially with Mbappe running at the Belgian defence. Even though France has a young team, they also have a very experienced player on the team, the goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris. His pace caused the Belgian back line worries all night and one moment of absolute genius when his quick feet and back heel sent Giroud through on goal, nearly lead to one of the goals of the tournament so far.

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