France have advanced to the finals of the 2018 World Cup after beating Belgium 1-0 in a hotly contested game in Saint Petersburg.
Belgium got off to a flying start with the team playing a high attacking line and pressing the French players, who hardly had a touch of the ball in the first 20 minutes.
The pressure was relentless and eventually resulted in a chance by Eden Hazard in the 15th minute. This was not the last threat that Belgium had produced, yet they always had to be weary of the French who looked fast and dangerous on the counter.
Their pace almost paid off in the 18th minute, when Blaise Matuidi put a thumping shot into the hands of Thibaut Courtois.
After this France began to grow into the game, showing more attacking prowess. From the 33rd minute onwards the roles seemed to have reversed, with Belgium playing the attacking press and peppering Courtois.
Antoine Griezemann, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe were all lining up to get a shot at goal, yet it was the industrious Samuel Umtiti who finally broke the deadlock after half time.
The Barcelona defender managed climb above Marouane Fellaine to smartly head the ball into the net at the front post from a corner.
The goal did not dull either sides enthusiasm for the next goal though, with both sides looking dangerous on the attack and slightly shakey on defence. The end to end football was only interrupted by the replacement of Moussa Dembele by Dries Mertens. The former had failed to impress in the match, while the latter made an immediate difference as the main provider of crosses for Belgium.
The Red Devils however failed to take their chances, with Hazard and Romelu Lukaku both not able to get on the end of any of Mertens’ crosses.
The final quarter of the game turned into the frantic football that has been trademark of this World Cup, yet neither side managed to trouble the scoreboard again.
All in all, the French team managed to put together a better team effort than the Belgians, who definitely missed the attacking prowess of Lukaku who struggled to get into the game.
The French will now face either the English or the Croatians on Sunday at 17:00 with a World Cup final just one victory away!