TIL Desk Sports/ Samuel Umtiti’s 51st-minute header sent an impressive France into the World Cup final with a 1-0 win over Belgium in an absorbing first semi-final on Tuesday. Didier Deschamps’s side will face England or Croatia in Moscow on Sunday as the French look to lift the trophy for the second time following their triumph on home soil in 1998.
In an enthralling tactical match, it was once again a set-piece that proved decisive with Umtiti’s near-post header from an Antoine Griezmann corner settling matters. Having gained the lead, France showed the defensive nous to nullify the threat from Belgium’s Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne, closing out the game for a win that sent them to their second straight major tournament final, following their loss to Portugal in Euro 2016.
It had been suggested that France needed to step up a level in quality if they were to get past the Belgians and they did just that. But the worrying factor for whoever wins Wednesday’s game in Moscow is that France still look to have another gear to move into. Deschamps, coach at Euro 2016 and captain of the 1998 World Cup winners, suggested as much.