By Izuchukwu Okosi
France defeated Belgium 1-0 Tuesday night to book their place in the final of the 2018 World Cup.
Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti scored a second half header from a freekick which was enough to see Les Blue through.
France have won their previous two World Cup meetings against Belgium, winning 3-1 in the first round in 1938, and 4-2 in the third-place playoff match in 1986.
Both sides made early incursions unto opposition halves but Belgium had more possessions while France waited for counters to wreck havoc.
Eden Hazard flashed his 15th minute shot wide in the Belgian box with Romelu Lukaku lurking in the shadow to pull the trigger.
Blaise Matuidi unleashed a superb 25 yard shot three minutes later but Hugo Lloris was able to claim it. He also produced another good save shortly after, palming the ball away for corner from a Toby Alderwereld’s swiveled effort.
Olivier Giroud’s attempted lob in the 23rd minute and a 31st minute stooping header did not culminate in goals.
With six minutes to the half time break Kylian Mbappe found Benjamin Pavard but the young Frenchman’s close range low shot was saved by Thibaut Courtouis.
Lukaku reacted late to a tantalising cross by Kevin De Bruyne just before the half time. The ball hit his arm and went out for a goal kick.
Lukaku was presented with the first chance in the second half but his 47th minute header went wide while Giroud’s right footed effort was deflected for corner by Vincent Kompany.
Samuel Umtiti then headed France ahead from the ensuing set piece in the 51st minute.
Giroud was thwarted by Fellaini after Matuidi and Mbappe set him up to score but denied by the Man United man’s block.
Hazard was yellow carded for pulling the jersey of Matuidi who was keen to release the pacy Mbappe in the 63rd minute.
Axel Witsel’s superb shot was stopped by a magnificent save by Lloris eight minutes to full time.
Manchester United striker, Lukaku, was located by a swinging cross from De Bruyne in the 87th minute but the French defenders did their job and denied him access to the ball.
Griezmann had a late chance as he was teed up by the nippy Mbappe in the third minute of added time but the ball got to his right foot and expectedly the shot he took was weak.
Tolisso’s shot palmed in added time was palmed away for corner by Courtouis but the Belgians had no further chance to find an equaliser as the referee’s final whistle sounded.
France now await the winner of Wednesday’s clash between Croatia and England.