Samuel Umtiti’s goal in the 51st minute was all the scoring France needed to defeat Belgium and advance to the final of the 2018 World Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Umtiti’s corner kick on a header capped a sterling defensive effort by the Frenchmen in St. Petersburg Stadium, highlighted by goalkeeper Hugo Loris, who made two crucial stops against the Belgians, making a diving, fingertip block of Toby Alderweireld’s shot midway through the first half, then stopping Alex Witsel’s kick late in the game to secure the victory.
The loss represents another failure for Belgium’s so-called “golden generation” of such players as captain Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, having failed to reach the finals of major tournament for the third time in four years
France will now await the winner of Wednesday’s semi-final match between Croatia and Britain in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, where Sunday’s final match will be staged. This will be France’s first World Cup final since 1998, when current coach Didier Deschamps led the team to its first and only title as team captain.
It will also give France a chance to redeem its failures in the finals of the 2006 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship on its home pitch.