Umtiti header sends streetwise France into World Cup final

Umtiti header sends streetwise France into World Cup final

However, Umtiti popped up with the game's telling moment early in the second half, nodding the ball home to score his third global goal.

That was as close as Belgium came to taking the game to extra-time, though, as Lloris parried a long-range piledriver from Axel Witsel.

Samuel Umtiti's 51st minute header earned France a place in Sunday's World Cup final as they defeated Belgium 1-0 in St Petersburg on Tuesday night.

Here are all the talking points from the 27th day of this summer's World Cup.

Belgium will be without Thomas Meunier for the first time in the tournament, as the PSG midfield has also picked up a suspension.

For all its possession, Belgium - the top scorers in this competition - were unable to break a robust French defense and will rue not capitalizing on its dominant first-half display. France will face either Croatia or England, who play Wednesday at the Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital.

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.

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France was relentless on the attack in its 4-3 win against Argentina, but it has now revealed a grit in wins against Uruguay and Belgium that many were not sure existed. The Chelsea player looked the most likely to get his team on the scoresheet with Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku also looking risky.

Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne said Henry might sing France's national anthem before the game, but his loyalties firmly lie with his new side. Romelu Lukaku, who was starved of deliveries in the first half, couldn't convert the chances he got in the second half due to France's staunch defending.

"It was a dead ball situation which was the difference", Martinez told reporters after the game.

With 10 minutes to go and time running out for Belgium, they were certainly unlucky not to win a free-kick after Olivier Giroud brings Hazard to ground but the ref waved for the match to continue. Benjamin Pavard was slipped through by a fine Mbappe ball, but Courtois stuck out a leg and deflected his shot wide.

In search of the equalizer, Belgium repeatedly sent over crosses from both wings but Umtiti and Varane, both centre backs, used their bodies cleverly to hold off Fellaini and Lukaku.

Samuel Umtiti delivered the knockout blow with a flicked header shortly after half-time, beating Marouane Fellaini to the corner deliver.

After reaching the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup and the European Championship in 2016, Belgium again missed the chance to get to an worldwide final and has yet to fulfil its lofty expectations.

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