France edges Belgium to reach World Cup final

Cristina Cross
July 11, 2018

"We know them, they know us", France coach Didier Deschamps, who was a key part of the French team that won the World Cup in 1998, told reporters in a pre-match media conference. Lloris was strong when called upon in the second half, after Umtiti's header had tilted the scales in France's favor, and Les Bleus will go in search of their second title on Sunday in Moscow against either England or Croatia.

"There is still one more step to take, but we are proud of what we have done". Hindustan Times delivers the news across all social media platforms, on the web, and at your doorstep. "We had the ball but have to give credit to the way France defended, and we couldn't find that little bit of magic in front of goal".

Six minutes of injury time provided Belgium with hope but France ran the clock down and nearly made it 2-0 as Griezmann and then Corentin Tolisso's shots were well saved by Courtois.

Martinez said his team had done well to nullify the French threat from open play and denied that his decision to start Mousa Dembele in midfield had a major effect on the outcome.

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Hazard was pulling the strings for Belgium, but the game ebbed and flowed as the first half progressed with Giroud the focus of France's attacks, putting a Mbappe cross wide when well-placed 11 minutes before the break. Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard made repeated forrays into the French box but the combination of Raphael Varane, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and defensive midfielder Blaise Matuidi kept them out.

"During the match everyone will be on their own side, and we will do everything to seize any opportunity to reach the final of the World Cup".

It's the third time France has reached the final in the last six World Cups. In 2006, they were beaten in a penalty shootout by Italy in a World Cup final that was overshadowed by Zidane headbutting opposing player Marco Materazzi in the chest in extra time.

When the match ended, the French players danced on the field and shook the hand of Thierry Henry, another 1998 World Cup victor who is now Belgium's assistant coach.

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France have assembled one of the most talented and exciting squads in world football, but they ground out this victory.

"I think his heart will be split, because before everything he is French".

They have, in fact, conceded the most goals of any remaining team. "They played a great game against Brazil with a specific game plan", said the 49-year-old Deschamps. "We were all happy, all hugging", Mbappe said.

"That was the difference, but if you're going to lose, I'm so proud of the players".

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Belgium are playing in their 13th World Cup finals, with their best performance being the fourth place they claimed in Mexico in 1986.

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