Umititi's header guide France to World Cup final after 12 years

France Belgium graphic

The current crop has been labelled as something of a golden generation for the country, and failure to reach the final in Russian Federation has been seen as a missed opportunity to mark it with a major triumph.

Lloris had to claw away defender Toby Alderweireld's 22nd-minute shot on the turn with Belgium dominating, but Olivier Giroud flashed a header just wide of Courtois' left post from Benjamin Pavard's cross nine minutes later and then could not hit the target from Mbappe's cushioned pass.

Mbappe returned to the side with a bang in Kazan as France ended the hopes of Argentina and Lionel Messi with a breathtaking display.

"The frustration is there because we didn't lose to a team who are better than us, we lost to a team who play nothing, just defend".

"It's a pure pleasure to see these players grow", Deschamps said, "and never give up". France - with an average age of 26 - will face either Croatia or England, who play Wednesday at the Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital, and has a shot at redemption after losing its last two major finals - at the 2006 World Cup when Zinedine Zidane was sent off for a nasty head-butt and the 2016 European Championship on home soil.

Axel Witsel also came close to an equalizer, latching on to a loose ball and unleashing a shot that again forced Lloris into action. Not only the French tactics, but the referee.

But for Courtois, France's margin of victory would have been greater as he made saves from Griezmann and Corentin Tolisso in stoppage time. Earlier in the tournament, he pointed out that England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was too short to save the victor scored by Courtois's teammate Adnan Januzaj in the 1-0 victory over England.

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Unfortunately, the Tottenham Hotspur player had a night to forget as he was constantly beaten to the ball by the French players, and cut a frustrated look as he constantly committed fouls - very lucky not to have been booked. The message was clear. I didn't find it. France scored first and it became hard. "I take my hat off to my players and my staff".

It was the worst possible time for the most prolific attack of Russian Federation 2018 to lose their touch in front of goal, their threat blunted by a defensive wall expertly constructed by Didier Deschamps. "We did what we had to do", said De Bruyne. "What they do, they do well".

From the opening kick, the match was action-packed from end to end with both teams having many opportunities to break the deadlock, and it was exciting football even for neutrals.

Griezmann had a gilt-edged chance to double France's lead in the 93rd minute, as he drove a low effort toward goal from the edge of the box that was saved by Courtois. Kylian Mbappe, inside the first 10 seconds, burning Belgium's Jan Vertonghen away, an express train speeding past a bewildered commuter. "And then the players do their best, try to respect what the manager said and we have the talent, we have the belief, the spirit to turn the game the way we want".

"Yes, we haven't created so many [scoring] chances in front of our opponents' goal today". Griezmann has now played a part in 20 goals in his last 20 starts for France by scoring 12 himself and providing eight assists.

That said, I must admit that I don't think the Red Devils deserved to win yesterday.

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