France 1-0 Belgium AS IT HAPPENED: Les Bleus into World Cup final; England or Croatia next

France beat Belgium to book a place in the World Cup final against either England or Croatia, thanks to a headed goal from defender Samuel Umtiti.

In a pulsating semi-final worthy of the teams’ reputations, Umtiti rose high at the near post to head an Antoine Griezmann corner past keeper Thibaut Courtois. It was enough to take France to the final for the first time since 1998, when they won their only World Cup as hosts of the tournament.

Belgium, playing in their second World Cup semi-final after one in 1986, piled on the pressure and came close with a Marouane Fellaini header in the 65th minute and a string of other chances.

But they could not find an equaliser despite having netted 14 times in their previous five games in the tournament.

FRANCE 1-0 BELGIUM – UMTITI (51)

France XI: Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, L. Hernandez, Pogba, Kante, Matuidi, Mbappe, Giroud, Griezmann.

Belgium XI: Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen, Chadli, Fellaini, Dembele, Witsel, De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesGETTY

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

FRANCE 1-0 BELGIUM

FT: They’ve done it! France have knocked Belgium’s golden generation OUT of the World Cup to qualify for Sunday’s final.

Since reaching their first one in 1998, France have reached more World Cup finals than any other nation.

96: Where’s the Belgium urgency? They almost look resigned to losing here as Tolisso forces a good save from Courtois. That might be the last kick of the game…

95: Jan Vertonghen completely loses his cool and grabs Mbappe’s head in a claw-style manner. Weird. It also loses him precious seconds to find an equaliser and earns him a booking.

94: Antoine Griezmann should put the game to bed when collecting a sloppy backpass but tamely strikes at Courtois.

92: France frustrating Belgium by keeping it in those corners with throw, after throw after throw. Witsel is incensed by Mbappe’s refusal to give the ball back and shoves him over, but the Frenchman is booked.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

91: Chadli is replaced by Batshuayi, he loooooves a late goal, right?

90: Six minutes added time. Blaise Matuidi is probably responsible for most of that.

89: Where’s this late goal coming from? We’ve seen our fair share at this competition.

88: He could pay for that. Kante just won’t stop hassling Hazard and eventually chops him down. Booked.

Surely this is too far out, even for Kevin De Bruyne… It is. He clips it into the six-yard box, where Nzonzi hooks its away.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesGETTY

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

86: Matuidi is down for the second time in as many minutes. A biota gamesmanship I suspect but Didier Deschamps finally takes him off. Tolisso replaces him.

84: Lloris makes a great save to deny Witsel from distance before Matuidi goes down injured. Belgium throwing the kitchen sink now. Six minutes remaining…

Carrasco comes on for Fellaini. Nzonzi replaces Giroud, who looks shattered.

83: Eh? The FIFA rules must have changed over the last few minutes because I have no idea how Eden Hazard hasn’t been awarded a free-kick JUST outside the France penalty area. Giroud clumsily bundled through him but referee Andres Cunha ignores it.

80: We’re 10 minutes away from the channel tunnel derby… Belgium not really applying much pressure as France do a professional job of keeping possession.

78: Good patient play from Belgium results in De Bruyne sending a 20-yarder into space. Not his finest.

75: Axel Witsel joins Eden Hazard and Toby Alderweireld in the book. All three of them did it to prevent Kylian Mbappe from breaking clear.

73: Few boos ring around the stadium as Samuel Umtiti goes down after taking a ball in the face. It wasn’t struck particularly hard but those precious seconds keep ticking away.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

70: Paul Pogba is doing some exceptional defensive work this evening. He’s tracking Fellaini across the park and just got his body in the way of a dangerous looping cross. Jose must have taught him that…

68: Close! Dries Mertens immediately puts in a series of good crosses, one nodded wide by Fellaini. Belgium starting to apply pressure now.

65: So the arrival of Dries Mertens has seen De Bruyne drop into a deeper midfield role. Not sure about that myself, but who am I to question Roberto Martinez…

64: Here comes Nacer Chadli with the corner, and there goes his chances of taking the next one because that was abysmal. No idea with De Bruyne isn’t on set-piece duty.

61: Roberto Martinez, who made some very successful substitutions against Japan, makes a change with Dries Mertens on for Mousa Dembele.

58: How have Belgium responded? I’ll tell you when they do…

55: Good lord! Kylian Mbappe with some absolute sorcery to thread Giroud through on goal, but once again the striker fluffs it.

53: Only Harry Kane (6 goals) has been involved in more goals at the 2018 World Cup than Antoine Griezmann (3 goals, 2 assists).

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

FRANCE 1-0 BELGIUM – UMTITI

51: Try all the complicated formations you like, sometimes the classics are the best.

France have made the breakthrough five-minutes after the restart courtesy of Barcelona star Samuel Umtiti, who rises highest to glance Antoine Griezmann’s inswinging corner beyond Thibaut Courtois.

It might have taken a slight deflection off Fellaini’s shoulder on the way in. Either way, it’s advantage France.

50: Close! Giroud tracks back but pokes his clearance through to De Bruyne, who is just prevented from slipping Lukaku through by Umtiti. Very similar pattern to the first half with Belgium creating the better chances.

48: Spicy start to the second half with Matuidi just pinching the ball off De Bruyne before he could pull the trigger. Mbappe also embarks on a 40-yard run but runs into a brick wall.

45: And we’re back after a wonderful interview with ‘Slab Head,’ otherwise known as Harry Maguire. He’s a lovey chap but Jamie Vardy’s nickname for him leave a lot to be desired…

Anyway, no changes for either side.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

SEVEN HOURS…

HT: Seven hours? The obvious prequel to Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours…

Olivier Giroud has now played over seven hours of football at the 2018 World Cup (425 minutes) without managing a single shot on target.

TWITTER ROUND-UP

Kyle: Decent game both sides have had spells where they have been on top. I’ve been impressed with the fluidity of Belgium’s play they have been very impressive at times. Good game and it could go either way hopefully it goes all the way to penalties.

Benjamin: Absolutely selfish performance from Eden Hazard, wanting to win the game all on his own and going nowhere. If he was a better player he could have set up at least two goals. Instead it is 0-0.

Tom: Antoine Griezmann is running the show in possession for France. His distribution has been outstanding on the break.

WORRY?!

HT: Do England have anything to worry about? In a word, YES. Neither side have been at their brilliant best, but the difference between the pair and anyone we’ve beaten to this point is enormous.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesFIFA

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

FRANCE 0-0 BELGIUM

HT: France survive the last kick of the half as Lukaku fails to anticipate De Bruyne’s first-time cross from the right. The ball cannons off his body and dribbles wide.

45: Is this the moment? Dembele drags Pogba down around 25-yards from goal and France have themselves a free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

Antoine Griezmann steps up… blocked. Terrible effort.

43: The shape of France is making it virtually impossible for Belgium to find space. Roberto Martinez’s side are therefore trying to force things and keep losing possession. French ending the half stronger.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

41: Big save! Mbappe and Pavard play a neat one-two before the full-back’s angled effort is palmed away by Courtois. Probably the best chance of the evening.

39: A reminder that Olivier Giroud has not yet had a shot on target in the whole World Cup…

38: Having contributed nothing after 38 minutes, Olivier Giroud is down clothing his hamstring. The Chelsea star was trying to keep up with the breaking Griezmann and paid the price.

He’s on his feet again, but moving very gingerly indeed.

35: Yuck. Griezmann lines one up from distance but sends that back to Paris.

Glorious chance. Kylian Mbappe cushions a looping crossfield pass straight to Giroud, who must have been running in toffee. He barely reached the ball before Jan Vertonghen clears.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

33: Belgium are bossing the stats with 60 percent possession, but France look reasonably content to play exclusively on the break. Speaking of which…

Griezmann plays a clever ball out to Pavard, whose cross is diverted just wide by Giroud. It was a difficult chance in fairness to the Chelsea striker.

31: Close! De Bruyne is pulling the strings in midfield and nearly forces Umtiti to toe-poke his low effort beyond Lloris. France don’t have a grip on the Manchester City star.

30: We’ve reached the half-hour mark and we’re still no closer to finding out our final opponents. Yes, I am assuming we’ll beat Croatia tomorrow…

27: Nice, sharp move from France with Pogba, Giroud and Hernandez combining to win a corner. Griezmann sends the set-piece in but Fellaini towers above everyone to clear.

24: What. A. Save. A routine corner is cleared straight to Alderweireld, who swivels and pings one that’s heading for the top corner. His Tottenham colleague Hugo Lloris makes a sensational full-stretch save to prevent the opener.

Alderweireld must have been watching Sir Harry Kane in training. It’s the only explanation for a striker’s effort like that.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

21: Woodwork! I wasn’t lying, folks. These two are going for it. Hazard is afforded far too much time and space before firing a rocket that’s deflected onto the bar by Varane.

19: It’s been a really enjoyable game with neither side scared to commit numbers forward. Just a good old fashioned slug fest unfolding here in St Petersburg. A slightly more cultured slug fest of course…

Blaise Matuidi collects a clearance before launching a thunderous effort straight at Courtois.

16: Two incidents you don’t normally see. First Kevin De Bruyne misses a prime opportunity to set Romelu Lukaku free, swiftly followed by N’Golo Kante gifting the ball to Eden Hazard. The Belgium winger dragged it wide.

13: That’s the threat! France can break at lightning speed and Belgium don’t have the legs to keep pace with Kylian Mbappe. Paul Pogba spins and releases the PSG star, who’s JUST beaten to the ball by Thibaut Courtois.

If that kids has a clear run at you, you’re in trouble. Fact.

10: Worrying signs for the French. They are going to have to weather this Belgium storm as De Bruyne ghosts past Pogba and wins a corner. Nacer Chadli sent it straight out of play.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

FRANCE 0-0 BELGIUM

8: Spare a thought for Benjamin Pavard, who will spend most of the evening trying to stop Eden Hazard by himself. The right-back has found himself isolated once or twice with the Chelsea star sending a wicked ball that Umtiti sends into orbit.

5: Exactly the start we wanted. These two are going for the jugular early with bursts forward all over the pitch. Belgium are enjoying a bit of sustained pressure as Kevin De Bruyne whips a wonderful first-time cross through the penalty area.

2: Right, how has Roberto Martinez set things up tonight? It looks like Nacer Chadli will play as an orthodox right-back and Jan Vertonghen at left-back in a flat back four. Bold.

France nearly make the breakthrough inside the opening 60 seconds with Kylian Mbappe bursting down the right and sending a cross into the penalty area, that Belgium just about scramble clear.

FRANCE 0-0 BELGIUM

1: And we’re off!! The last few games between these sides have seen a minimum of five goals scored, let’s hope tonight follows the same script.

My prediction? 2-1 to France…

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

ANTHEMS…

18:55: The French often win the battle of the national anthems with La Marseillaise, and tonight is no exception. I’d also suggest that they have the majority of fans inside the stadium.

Thierry Henry looked pretty confused…

WHO WOULD YOU RATHER…

18:51: Right, who are we supporting tonight?

Well, Alan Shearer says England fans will not care who wins, because they believe football is coming home.

“Well we know what the people at home are thinking,” Shearer said. “They won’t really care who England have to face in the final if they get there. They believe it’s coming home and rightly so.”

TWITTER ROUND-UP

Simon: Belgium are on course to win every single game in one World Cup without extra time or penalties. That’s not been done since Brazil did it in 2002.

David: Weird to get ready for a World Cup final on a Tuesday night. Even weirder to think they won’t be handed the trophy for another five days.

Chris: Probably a 1-0 or a 2-1 but this World Cup have been surprising, unpredictable and hugely entertaining so a 5-5 for the neutral please!

Why can’t you just believe, David? It’s coming home!

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU…

18:45: It’s quite a strange scenario to see so many Premier League club colleagues facing each other.

Hugo Lloris has three Tottenham team-mates in the Belgium squad and there are plenty of similar situations all over the park.

France boss Didier Deschamps said: “We know them, they know us. The peculiarity is there are many players on my team who have their own club team-mates facing them. So they know each other. It’s an advantage on both sides.”

FREE TV…

18:40: No, I don’t have the budget to give away free television sets, but Belgian electronics company Krefel might have to…

They’ve offered full refunds to those who have bought TVs from them during the World Cup should Roberto Martinez’s side score at least 16 goals in Russia.

And ahead of Belgium’s semi-final clash against France this evening – they’ve scored 14.

Squeaky bum time for Krefel…

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

TWITTER ROUND-UP

Jimmy: Soooo looking forward to this game!! Club team-mates/best mates/club rivals….all go out of the window!! Let’s hope it lives up to it and may the best team win!!

Weilong: Kevin De Bruyne at LWB surely recognising that Pavard is the weak link in France particularly offensively. Another masterstroke by Martinez? Let’s see.

Aaron: Feels very wrong to root for France but of the two, assuming we make the final, England have a better shot at beating France. We have the pace to deal with Mbappe,the physicality to contain Giroud and the tenacity to shackle Pogba. And we have Kane up front also.

I’m a big fan of that comment, Weilong. I think you could be on to something there.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

HAZARD vs KANTE

18:26: Chelsea team-mates Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante will face each other down in midfield, with the winner of the duel potentially being key to which team reaches the final.

The clash of contrasting styles could prove compelling viewing, with influential Belgium playmaker Hazard aiming to escape the clutches of France’s defensive linchpin Kante. So often the pair have dovetailed in style for Chelsea, but now they will look to outdo the other in national-team colours.

EH?

18:23: On the official FIFA graphic, Kevin De Bruyne is playing at left wing-back… does anyone have the faintest clue what Roberto Martinez is up to?

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

BOBBY MARTINEZ

18:20: Roberto Martinez has admitted it took him two years to give Belgium’s bunch of individual superstars the belief that they can go on and win their first World Cup together.

Belgium are on a high after a quarter-win win over Brazil which shattered the notion that their big names are impossible to unite in one team.

“Now I think a lot of questions have been answered in saying that this is a team, not a group of individuals,” Martinez said.

“They made a commitment of trying to help each other become a high-performance squad and to come together to be as good as we can at international level has been a two-year process. It’s a group of people who want to share the vision of making Belgian football proud and they’ve done that.”

TWITTER ROUND-UP

Chris: Roberto Martinez gets an awful lot of flak for a manager whose team are unbeaten in 24 straight matches. national record…

Libby: It’s been suggested that this year I holiday in the country that wins the World Cup! So, do I want to visit Belgium, France, Croatia or England??? Who do I cheer for??

Kyle: I expect France to have to much for Belgium but this game is all about which team defends the best. We have two potent attacks two of the best attacks in the competition. Hopefully it will be a high scoring thriller an early goal would do wonders for this match.

I can’t believe you even have to ask that question, Libby. You been down the Shropshire Union Canal?!

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

TEAM NEWS – FRANCE

18:05: Much less complicated. France make just one change with Blaise Matuidi returning from a one-match ban to replace Corentin Tolisso.

TEAM NEWS – BELGIUM

18:00: Interesting. I think we’ve got some covert tactics going on with Robert Martinez’s selection tonight.

Belgium make one change as the suspended right-back Thomas Meunier is replaced by Spurs midfielder Mousa Dembele.

But… what formation are they playing?!

Either Martinez is playing a 3-5-2 with Mousa Dembele or Axel Witsel playing right wing-back, or a flat back four with an unusual full-back. Jan Vertonghen perhaps?

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesFIFA

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

BELGIUM vs FRANCE

17:55: And the starting XI’s have arrived. Nothing too surprising about Didier Deschamps decision to bring Blaise Matuidi back from suspension.

France XI: Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Lucas, Pogba, Kante, Mbappe-Lottin, Griezmann, Matuidi, Giroud.

Subs: Mandanda, Kimpembe, Lemar, Dembele, Tolisso, Nzonzi, Rami, Fekir, Sidibe, Thauvin, Mendy, Areola.

Belgium XI: Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen, Chadli, Dembele, Witsel, Fellaini, De Bruyne, Lukaku, Eden Hazard.

Subs: Mignolet, Vermaelen, Carrasco, Mertens, Thorgan Hazard, Tielemans, Januzaj, Boyata, Batshuayi, Dendoncker, Casteels.

Referee: Andres Cunha

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

SPLIT LOYALTIES…

17:50: “Hey, Thierry. What’s the French trying to help Belgium knock your native France out of the World Cup?”

Henry, a World Cup and European Championship winner with France as well as their record goalscorer, is now in the Belgium camp as assistant manager.

He was a national hero in France but he is now helping plot their downfall. His presence on the touchline will add an interesting extra dimension to proceedings.

Kylian Mbappe, who has been likened to a young Henry, considers him an inspiration but it is the likes of Lukaku who will benefit from his experience.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

ROM THE BOMB

17:45: Belgium hitman Romelu Lukaku has fired in four goals so far in Russia, but his unselfish play has been just as vital as his finishing in guiding Martinez’s men to the semi-finals.

Belgium have reached the World Cup’s last four for the first time since 1986, where they wound up facing – and losing to – France in the third-place play-off.

This time though, Manchester United striker Lukaku will be intent on not just advancing Belgium to the final, but also chasing down the tournament’s six-goal leading scorer, England captain Harry Kane.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

TWITTER ROUND-UP

Grant: After Real Madrid announced the Lopetegui hire the day before the World Cup and the Ronaldo transfer the night of France vs Belgium, I’m left wondering how Real Madrid will attempt to upstage the World Cup final…

Bawa: Belgium or France? Don’t know who to support today… but whoever wins today wins the World Cup!

Grundy: Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus must mean Jordan Henderson to Real Madrid. They’ll need to replace him with a World Cup winner I reckon…

SENDING ‘EM HOME WITH LES BLEUS?

17:35: France’s teenage striker Mbappe was not born the last time Les Bleus won the World Cup, on home soil in 1998.

But the PSG forward has earned widespread plaudits for his performances in propelling his side into the last four.

Now the 19-year-old will seek to produce another top-drawer showing against Belgium in a bid to seal a spot in Sunday’s final for the French.

P.s. I’m aware the headline doesn’t work. Poor punnage on my behalf…

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

THREE LIONS

17:30: Poor Gareth. The England boss has admitted he could not listen to “Three Lions” for 20 years after his penalty shoot-out miss in the Euro ’96 semi-final.

The song, recorded by David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds, has been echoing around the nation once again ever since it became apparent that Southgate and his team were going to have an extended stay in Russia.

“Football’s Coming Home is a song I couldn’t even listen to for 20 years, frankly, so for me it has a slightly different feel. It’s nice to hear people enjoying it again, anyway,” Southgate said.

Doesn’t sound like he’s completely over it if you ask me…

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesREUTERS

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

RONNIE OFF!

17:25: And here’s me hoping to crack on with our World Cup build-up and then the biggest transfer of the summer happens.

Real Madrid have announced that the transfer of Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus has been agreed.

The Spanish club stated that the move is “in response to the will and request expressed” by Ronaldo, who has spent the past nine years at the Bernabeu.

The fee paid by the Serie A champions is reported to be around £92.7million for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Huge news. D’ya think that’s a good move for Ronaldo, Real Madrid and Juventus? Let me know your thoughts.

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updatesGETTY

Belgium vs France LIVE: World Cup semi-final score, goals and updates

HAVE YOUR SAY

17:20: If you want to vent your frustrations, or discuss any issues in the world of football (within reason), then get in touch!

You can either comment at the bottom of the page or contact me via Twitter using the hashtag #ExpressSport.

WELCOME

17:15: And then there were four…

Four sides all vying to be crowned the 2018 World Cup champions and, quite unbelievably, England are still involved!

Gareth Southgate and this young Three Lions side have made everyone proud and have injected some much-needed optimism throughout the nation.

In fact, I’ve already seen a petition with 140k signatures trying to make Monday a Bank Holiday should we actually bring football home.

Might be a little too optimistic on reflection…

But 180 nerve-racking, gut-wrenching, anxiety-filled minutes stand between us and the trophy.

Before all of that, Belgium and France meet in a swashbuckling semi-final in St Petersburg for a place in Sunday’s final. Let’s get going!

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Post Author: martin

Martin is an enthusiastic programmer, a webdeveloper and a young entrepreneur. He is intereted into computers for a long time. In the age of 10 he has programmed his first website and since then he has been working on web technologies until now. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of BriefNews.eu and PCHealthBoost.info Online Magazines. His colleagues appreciate him as a passionate workhorse, a fan of new technologies, an eternal optimist and a dreamer, but especially the soul of the team for whom he can do anything in the world.

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