France defeated Belgium 1-0 in a tightly contested game at the Saint Petersburg stadium on Tuesday to qualify for the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup holding in Russia.
Defender Samuel Umtiti beat Belgian Marouane Fellaini in the air to power a header from an Antoine Griezmann corner kick past Thibaut Courtois in the 51st minute to score the game’s only goal.
The Red Devils signalled their intent to attack the French goal area with a strong 3-5-2 formation in a bid to keep to control of the game.
The Belgians indeed dominated the game as they had 60 percent of the possession as against France’s 40 percent and also had a larger amount of the passes, 630, compared to 342 by their opponent.
However, despite being pegged back for the majority of the first half and with their goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, forced to make a full stretch save from Toby Alderweireld, Les Blues kept their calm and relied on the counter-attack to hurt the Belgians.
Belgium could not cope with the pace of Kylian Mbappe in the second half as France came resumed the game as an improved side. The 19-year old ran riots on the right wing as he troubled defender Jan Vertonghen and at times got the better of Kevin De Brunye.
Fellaini missed a chance for the Belgians in the 56th minute as he connected to a cross from the right wing, but headed the ball wide.
But despite tactical adjustment and substitutions by Roberto Martinez and being faced with a series of pressurised attack in the last 15 minutes, France remained compact and defended their goal fiercely as they denied the Red Devils any clear-cut scoring chance.
Dider Deschamps’ side could have even scored two goals in added time as Courtois was called to save attempts by Griezmann and Corentin Tolisso.
France, the 1998 champions, now await the winner of the other semi-final between Croatia-England on Wednesday to compete for the World Cup trophy in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Belgium will play the loser of the second semi-final a day earlier at the Saint Petersburg stadium.