France beats Belgium to advance to final (highlights, live updates recap)

FRA VS BEL

FRA VS BEL

Samuel Umtiti's 51st-minute header sent France into the World Cup final with a ruthless 1-0 win over Belgium in an absorbing first semi-final on Tuesday. Through five matches, it looked as if they could finally deliver on their promise.

Goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Thibaut Courtois both made smart saves to make sure an intriguing game remained scoreless at the interval.

"When you are not particularly tall, what is important is determination, the will to score, the will to go in front of the player and that is what enabled me to get this goal", said Umtiti.

"It's hard to call and it's like the Brazil game against Belgium, it's very hard to know which was it's going to go".

Umtiti played his part in a strong defensive effort by the French, too, helping to shut out the highest-scoring team at the tournament and leaving Belgium's golden generation of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku to regret another missed opportunity at a major tournament.

In a cagey game it was the French who came out on top as Samuel Umtiti's header proved the difference between the two sides.

"Today, a corner. It's a shame for football that Belgium didn't win today".

French President Emmanuel Macron and Belgian King Philippe watch the pre-match festivities in Saint Petersburg.

France President Emmanuel Macron was on hand for the game in St Petersburg and came down to the dressing room to celebrate with the players and staff.

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France, the 1998 champions, take on Belgium in the first semi-final of World Cup 2018. Benjamin Pavard and Raphael Varane scored in previous matches.

Belgium threatened several times, sending crosses into the box repeatedly over the final 45 minutes and into stoppage time, but could not beat Lloris for an equalizer.

"We have seen a fantastic Belgian team and have been eliminated by a team that was more solid than us".

The teams will be in soon (probably about six) and we can start working out the approach both managers will take tonight from there.

Deschamps now has the chance to become the third person to win the World Cup as a player and a coach, after Germany great Franz Beckenbauer and Brazil's Mario Zagallo.

"Vive la France! Vive la Republique!"

The young French team now waits to find out whether they will face either a first-time finalist in Croatia or an England team that has not been in a final since they won the trophy in 1966. Kylian Mbappe is the standout but N'Golo Kante is probably their most important player. Lukaku had just 22 touches of the ball.

Long considered the a lesser footballing nation than its neighbour the Netherlands - whose orange-clad teams have reached three World Cup finals and lost them all - this Belgium team has at least dispelled the Dutch shadow.

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