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World Cup: France shuts out Belgium, advances to final

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Samuel Umtiti's header in the 51st minute was the only score France needed to beat Belgium in a 2018 World Cup semifinal Tuesday in St. Petersburg, Russia.

France now plays either Croatia or England in the the World Cup final on Sunday in Moscow.

"I feel an enormous amount of pride," Umtiti told Fox Sports after the match. "We worked very hard. We did it together. Yes I scored the goal but tonight we delivered a huge match. We showed up as men and that's what we needed to get to the finals."

French keeper Hugo Lloris and Belgium's Thibaut Courtois kept clean sheets in the first half, denying assaults from each side. But Belgium dominated possession throughout the match.

Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann helped France finally break through six minutes into the second half. The midfielder took a corner kick from the right side on the play, bending a pass toward the near post. Umtiti came flying in, out-jumping two defenders and flicking a shot into a narrow space to beat Courtois into the net.

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.

"The disappointment is huge because i think the focus of the group was to try to win the tournament," Belgium coach Roberto Martinez told reporters. "It wasn't about doing a good tournament or about being happy in the top four. It is a really sad dressing room now because the opportunity of being in the final was the only focus that we had."

France reached the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup and was knocked out in the group stage at the 2010 World Cup. The French lost in the 2006 World Cup final and won the 1998 World Cup.
By Alex Butler

https://www.geezgo.com/sps/29988

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