World Cup: France 1 Belgium 0 - 5 things you need to know

France's Paul Pogba celebrates with Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi and team mates at the end of the match.
France's Paul Pogba celebrates with Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi and team mates at the end of the match.PHOTO: REUTERS

France are back in the World Cup final for the first time since 2006 after defeating Belgium 1-0 in the last four in St. Petersburg. A header from Samuel Umtiti in the 51st minute made all the difference as Les Bleus reached their third final in 20 years (after 1998 and 2006). For Belgium, their thrilling runs ends in the last four but they still have a third-place play-off to settle.

1. Goals

France (Samuel Umtiti 51st minute)

2. The wow moment

In a game punctuated by flashes of skill from the likes of Eden Hazard and Antoine Griezmann, it was 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe who provided the ooh-la-la moment. Receiving the ball with his back to goal in the 56th minute, he spun over it a la Zinedine Zidane before flicking it to Olivier Giroud with his heel, taking out the defence. Unfortunately, Giroud could not finish the move as his shot was deflected over.

3. The talking point

When they get it wrong, France do have a habit of messing up their World Cup campaigns of the last two decades in spectacular fashion. They finished their title defence in 2002 bottom of their group without any goals. Their imploded in spectacular style in 2010 with a player mutiny. But in 1998, the multi-racial team of Zidane, Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly united the country and went on to lift the trophy. In 2006, inspired by Zizou's swansong, they reached the final only to be lose it in a moment of madness.

4. The star

Belgium applied the pressure with more possession and a flurry of crosses slung from the flanks. But France weathered the storm and Griezmann impressed the most with his willingness to drop deep, collect the ball and initiate counter-attacks. It was also his inswinging corner that was headed home by Umtiti for the winner and let's not forget, the Atletico Madrid man made several sprints to hold off the runs of Hazard.

5. What the result means

After scoring freely in Russia, Belgium finally came unstuck against France's solid defensive block. Roberto Martinez's golden generation of Red Devils may have faltered at the penultimate hurdle but they will still leave the tournament with good memories of how they got there. If there is a blot on their campaign, it has to be how Romelu Lukaku failed to make any dents on France given his hot scoring form in the group stage. As for France, they will meet either Croatia or England in Monday morning's (Singapore time) in Moscow. Deschamps is gunning for history as the third man to win the World Cup as both player and coach (after Brazil's Mario Zagallo and Germany's Franz Beckenbauer). From defence to attack, Les Bleus looks very balanced and strong in every department, especially in terms of firepower where Griezmann's creativity, Giroud's muscles and Mbappe's warp speed offer the full range of headaches for opponents. The World Cup is within their grasp now, just don't mention headbutts.