The game began with a beautiful example of Kylian Mbappe’s acceleration and three minutes of possession for France. But when they lost the ball, Belgium kept it for three minutes too! What precision in their passes
Samuel Umtiti’s headed winner has returned France to the FIFA World Cup™ Final for the third time in 20 years, sealing a 1-0 win over Belgium in Saint Petersburg.
The first half saw chances at either end, with Belgium captain Eden Hazard going close before Hugo Lloris and Thibaut Courtois denied Toby Alderweireld and Benjamin Pavard respectively to ensure the opening period ended all square.
Having seen the best chances come from defenders, it was apt that a centre-back opened the scoring. After Raphael Varane performed heroics in the quarter-finals against Uruguay, this time it was Umtiti, stealing a march on his marker Marouane Fellaini to meet Antoine Griezmann’s corner at the near post and flick a header beyond Thibaut Courtois.
Once ahead, France locked down, robbing the Red Devils’ star names of space to pick through in the final third, grinding down the clock – while looking to strike on the counter – until their place in the Moscow finale was confirmed.