FIFA World Cup 2018 semifinals: Umtiti scores only goal, France reaches finals beating Belgium

Friday, July 13, 2018

On Tuesday, France defeated Belgium 1–0 in the FIFA football World Cup semifinals. Samuel Umtiti scored the only goal of the match, and France is to play Croatia in the final.

Belgium had better ball possession in the match. French forward Olivier Giroud faced some of his Chelsea teammates Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard. In the 19th minute, Eden Hazard's attempt for the goal was headed away by French defender Raphaël Varane. French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saved Toby Alderweireld's shot in the 22nd minute. Benjamin Pavard was denied the opening goal by Courtois in the 39th minute. The first half ended goallessly.

In the second half, Romelu Lukaku missed a chance to put Belgium in lead, from Axel Witsel's assist. Olivier Giroud missed a chance in the 51st minute, blocked. Antoine Griezmann took the corner, and French defender Samuel Umtiti scored from a header, giving France the lead. Kylian Mbappé assisted Giroud five minutes later but was blocked.

Belgium made the first substitution at the one-hour mark as Mousa Dembélé was substituted off for Dries Mertens. Hazard was the first player to receive a yellow card in the match, for a bad foul in the 63rd minute. Toby Alderweireld was booked in the 71st minute. Kevin De Bruyne missed a chance to equalise for Belgium in the 76th minute from Hazard's assist. Paul Pogba's 79th-minute shot missed the target.

Belgium used their second substitution in the 80th minute as Marouane Fellaini was replaced by Yannick Carrasco. Lloris stopped Witsel's shot on target in the 81st minute. In the last few minutes of the 90-minute game, French defender Blaise Matuidi was injured and was replaced by Corentin Tolisso. N'Golo Kanté, Mbappé and Jan Vertonghen were booked late in the game. The match ended with France scoring the only goal.

After the match, Belgian coach Roberto Martínez said, "It was a close game and it was very tight and it was going to be decided by that bit of luck in front of goal. The attitude of the players was brilliant and we couldn't ask for any more. We have to understand one team wins and the other loses, and we did what we could."

French coach Didier Deschamps said, "The most important match is on Sunday, we have given ourselves a huge privilege to reach the final of the World Cup. I was there two years ago [Euro 2016 final] and it was so painful that we want to taste the victory now. It is nothing to win the semi-final after losing in the final two years ago, we have this privilege to give happiness to these people, but we will try to give even more happiness on Sunday."

This is the second consecutive final for France in a major tournament. Two years ago, France reached the finals of UEFA Euro 2016, but lost to Portugal in the extra time.

France is now to face Croatia. France has featured in two FIFA World Cup finals to date, winning the 1998 tournament, while losing the 2006 World Cup to Italy.

July 10, 2018
2100 MSK (UTC+0300)
France 1–0 Belgium Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Attendance: 64,286
Referee: Andrés Cunha (Uruguay)
Samuel Umtiti Scored after 51 minutes 51'
N'Golo Kanté Booked after 87 minutes 87'
Kylian Mbappé Booked after 90+2–3 minutes 90+2–3'
Olivier Giroud Substituted off after 85 minutes 85'
Steven N'Zonzi Substituted on after 85 minutes 85'
Blaise Matuidi Substituted off after 86 minutes 86'
Corentin Tolisso Substituted on after 86 minutes 86'
0–0 (HT) Eden Hazard Booked after 63 minutes 63'
Toby Alderweireld Booked after 71 minutes 71'
Jan Vertonghen Booked after 90+4 minutes 90+4'
Mousa Dembélé Substituted off after 60 minutes 60'
Dries Mertens Substituted on after 60 minutes 60'
Marouane Fellaini Substituted off after 80 minutes 80'
Yannick Carrasco Substituted on after 80 minutes 80'
Nacer Chadli Substituted off after 90+1 minutes 90+1'
Michy Batshuayi Substituted on after 90+1 minutes 90+1'