Umtiti header sends France into final


Samuel Umtiti was the hero for France as his second-half header sealed a 1-0 victory over Belgium and a place in the World Cup final.

Fellaini flashed a header just wide and Axel Witsel forced a good save out of Lloris as Belgium pushed forward for an equaliser and France hung on in six minutes of stoppage-time to reach their third World Cup final. "We worked hard defensively, we needed to take advantage a bit more in the counter-attacks but congratulations to my players and my staff", he said.

"That was the difference, but if you're going to lose, I'm so proud of the players". They reached the 2006 final in Berlin, but lost to Italy on penalties.

Belgium dramatically came from two goals down to defeat Japan 3-2 in their round of 16 clash before producing one of the most complete displays of the tournament in knocking out favourites Brazil 2-1 in the quarter-finals. After all the back-and-forth play during the game, it can seem cruel that a simple set piece would be the decider, but give France credit.

The game's opening moments were unexpectedly boring, with both sides showing some cautiousness, limiting the goalkeepers to just a few loose balls to pick up.

Belgium had won all five matches in Russian Federation coming into their meeting with the French, and had scored 14 goals in the process.

England are the surprise package at this World Cup and they take on Croatia in Wednesday's second semi-final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and Whelan fancies them to win too.

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"It's a really sad dressing room now, because the opportunity of being in the final was the only focus we had", added Martinez. We could've come to this stage and froze and not dealt with what France have done in the past.

"We want to finish on a high, and these players deserve to finish on a high".

'We wanted to get to the final, the players showed a real togetherness and focus and when the result is not there you can not be anything but disappointed'.

"It is a fantastic generation and in order to beat them we will have to play a great match". But stars Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne couldn't find their way through the formidable French defense and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who made three crucial saves in the match.

Henry, World Cup victor in 1998 with Les Bleus, is assistant coach to Roberto Martinez, manager of Belgium, beaten 1-0 in the semifinals this morning.

"As it happens in any big tournament, you need to look at the younger generations and try to become stronger, " he said.