MX23RW : Sunday, July 15 18:09:59
Jul 10, 2018 at 7pm UK at ​ Krestovsky Stadium
Attendance: 64,286
Umtiti (51')
Kante (87'), Mbappe (90')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Hazard (63'), Alderweireld (71'), Vertonghen (90')

Live Commentary: France 1-0 Belgium - as it happened

Live Commentary: France 1-0 Belgium - as it happened
© Reuters
Relive France's 1-0 win over Belgium as Samuel Umtiti's second-half header sends Les Bleus into the final of the 2018 World Cup.

France booked their place in the final of the 2018 World Cup this evening courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Belgium at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg.

An absorbing first half saw both sides miss chances and both goalkeepers make top-class saves as the two teams went into the break goalless.

It took just six minutes of the second half for that to change, though, as Samuel Umtiti glanced his header past Thibaut Courtois at the near post to score what proved to be the only goal of the game.

Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.

6pmGood evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for the first of the 2018 World Cup semi-finals!

We have a cracker in store for you tonight as two of the standout teams of the tournament so far go head to head with a place in the final of the World Cup at stake. It is France against Belgium in Saint Petersburg, and the one thing that is hopefully guaranteed tonight is goals.

Let's waste no time in getting started with the team news!

6.02pmFRANCE STARTING XI: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, L Hernandez; Pogba, Kante, Matuidi; Mbappe, Giroud, Griezmann

6.04pmBELGIUM STARTING XI: Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Chadli, Witsel, Fellaini, Dembele; De Bruyne, Lukaku, E Hazard

6.06pmWhat can we make of that team news, then?

Well, we'll start with the French and as expected Didier Deschamps welcomes Blaise Matuidi back into his side after the midfielder missed the quarter-final victory over Uruguay through injury.

Also as expected, Corentin Tolisso is the man to make way for the returning Matuidi in what is France's only change from that 2-0 triumph over Uruguay in the last round.

6.08pmIt is not surprising that Deschamps has largely kept faith with a winning formula, and he has a number of players who have been among the World Cup's most impressive players in his ranks.

Naturally the attackers have won more headlines, but as ever N'Golo Kante has been a force to be reckoned with in the centre of midfield and he is likely to be crucial again this evening. Belgium boast some of the world's best creative midfielders in their ranks - including Kante's Chelsea teammate Eden Hazard - and it will be down to him more than anyone to stifle that creativity.

6.10pmKylian Mbappe broke through long before this World Cup, but his performances on the biggest stage have only served to inflate his burgeoning reputation even further and his performance against Argentina in particular was one of the most impressive from a teenager in World Cup history.

Indeed, with three goals Mbappe is the highest-scorer World Cup teenager since Pele hit six in 1958. Incidentally, Pele scored a hat-trick against France in the semi-final of that tournament, making him the last teenager to score in the last four of the World Cup.

Kylian Mbappe scores the opener during the World Cup group game between France and Peru on June 21, 2018© Reuters

6.12pmMbappe's form has been so good that even Antoine Griezmann has been forced to take a back seat to a certain extent, but the Atletico Madrid forward remains a hugely important player for France and he scored the crucial second goal against Uruguay in the last round - albeit via a terrible goalkeeping error.

Griezmann has now scored seven goals in his last six knockout matches in major tournaments, which is in stark contrast to the goalscoring form of Olivier Giroud, who is yet to have a single shot on target at this World Cup.

6.14pmAs for Belgium, they also only make one personnel change, and it is an enforced one for Roberto Martinez with Thomas Meunier suspended following his second yellow card of the tournament against Brazil.

Tottenham Hotspur Mousa Dembele comes into the starting line up in Meunier place, which prompts a reshuffle back to Roberto Martinez's preferred 3-4-2-1 formation having switched things up against Brazil.

6.16pmKevin De Bruyne featured as a false nine in that memorable display against the Brazilians, with Romelu Lukaku spending much of the game out on the right flank - a position he thrived in in the first half especially.

Lukaku looks like he will be playing in his more familiar central position tonight, though, and his threat cannot be downplayed. The Manchester United forward has been directly involved in 20 goals from his last 13 games for Belgium in all competitions, scoring 17 and creating three more. He is goalless so far in the knockout rounds, but remains Belgium's top scorer at this World Cup.

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku scores their second goal in the match against Panama on June 18, 2018 © Reuters

6.18pmThere is talent throughout this Belgium side, though, and Martinez's three at the back are all considered amongst the best central defenders in the Premier League at the moment - Kompany, Alderweireld and Vertonghen.

It is in midfield where they are perhaps not quite as strong, but that is still a powerful and combative quartet in the middle of the park and they will certainly not give France an easy passage through to attack that backline this evening.

6.20pmThe standout area of their side has to be that attacking trio of De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku, though. De Bruyne was one of the Premier League's best players last season and has really grown into this World Cup too, scoring a sweetly-struck goal which proved to be the winner against Brazil last time out.

Eden Hazard needs no introduction either, and the Chelsea winger has now been involved in 14 goals from his last 14 Belgium outings, scoring eight and assisting six.

6.22pmThis semi-final arguably pits the two best squads in the tournament - certainly left in the tournament - against each other, which makes it all the more intriguing. For France, the thought of coming up against Belgium may be fairly daunting, but they will be full of confidence themselves given their form.

Indeed, France have been installed as the new favourites to lift the trophy after Belgium eliminated Brazil, although they will be wary of the quality throughout their opponents' side tonight.

6.24pmFrance's quality is no secret, and their record in major tournaments over the past two decades is right up there with anyone else - including their runners-up showing at Euro 2016 on home soil two years ago.

Victory today would see them reach their third World Cup final in the space of 20 years, ever since lifting the trophy in 1998. The names of Zidane, Thuram, Henry and co are forever etched in the history of France football, and the current crop are potentially now just 180 minutes away from emulating them.

6.26pmIt has been something of a rollercoaster ride for France in World Cups over the past two decades despite their headline success of potentially reaching three finals from the past six attempts.

In 2002 they memorably crashed out in the group stages without even scoring a goal as defending champions, before bouncing back to reach the final in 2006, when they were beaten by Italy on penalties in the final after Zidane's infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi.

Perhaps the biggest low came four years later, though, when the players took the unprecedented decision to go on strike during the World Cup and were subsequently eliminated early once again.

6.28pmIt has been some turnaround from the debacle of 2010 to the semi-finals of 2018, with France now boasting some of the world's best young players and scarcely-believable strength in depth too.

Four years ago there were signs of the shoots of recovery when they made it to the quarter-finals before being eliminated by Germany, and reaching the Euro 2016 final now looks like another step on the right path for this hugely talented bunch of players. The scary things is, they are likely to be a force for some time to come too.

6.30pmLes Bleus have won four and drawn one of their five games at this World Cup so far, finishing top of Group C following victories over Australia and Peru before drawing 0-0 with Denmark.

The standout match - and arguably the game of the tournament - came in the last 16 when they overcame Argentina 4-3 in a thriller, while Uruguay were the next to fall courtesy of a 2-0 victory which was aided by a poor goalkeeping error from Muslera.

6.32pmBoth of those knockout victories showcased different aspects of their play, from the free-flowing attack against Argentina to the dogged and professional nature of their win over Uruguay.

The Argentina game in particular may have raised questions over their defensive solidity, but that was a match littered with wonder goals and France have not conceded a single goal from open play apart from in that game. Deschamps's side have also scored with each of their last six shots on target at the World Cup, so they are looking impressive at both ends of the field.

Antoine Griezmann in action during the World Cup group game between France and Australia on June 16, 2018© Reuters

6.34pmFrance come into this match having lost just one of their last 10 World Cup matches following four games without a win from the 2006 final to the 2010 group stages when it all seemed to go wrong for them.

Indeed, excluding penalty shootouts France have lost just one of their last 13 World Cup knockout games, winning 10 of those. This will be their sixth appearance in the semi-finals of the competitions, losing their first three in 1958, 1982 and 1986, but then winning their last two in 1998 and 2006.

6.36pmBelgium, meanwhile, are appearing in the semi-finals for only the second time in their history, so as a nation they are trailing France fairly significantly in the experience stakes.

The only previous occasion they have made it this far came in 1986, when their run was ended by Diego Maradona and Argentina, who went on to lift the trophy. The Red Devils actually went on to lose to France in the third-placed playoff of that tournament, meaning that they are already guaranteed at least their join best-ever finish at a World Cup.

6.38pmBelgium did also reach the semi-finals of the European Championship in 1972 on home soil, but once again it ended in disappointment for them as West Germany ran out 2-1 winners courtesy of a Gerd Muller brace.

The Red Devils have only ever reached one major final before - the 1980 European Championship - but they did not contest a semi-final that year due to the format of the competition and once again fell to defeat at the hands of West Germany.

6.40pmPast experience of the latter stages at major tournaments have not been great for Belgium, then, but never before have they had a group as talented as they do now, and their golden generation finally look to be living up to their billing this year.

The Red Devils have arguably been the standout team of the tournament so far, and beating Brazil in the last round was a real statement of intent. There is a very real possibility that Belgium will etch a new name into the famous gold trophy this year.

6.42pmThe 2-1 quarter-final victory over Brazil continued Belgium's 100% record at this summer's tournament, winning all five matches in contrasting fashion.

Victories over Panama, Tunisia and England - the latter of which with a second-string side - saw them finish top of Group G, but they looked to be on course for a shock exit when they fell two goals down to Japan in the last 16 - only to launch a stirring comeback and snatch a 3-2 victory with virtually the final kick of the game.

Belgium midfielder Nacer Chadli wheels away in celebration following his last-minute winner against Japan in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup© Reuters

6.44pmIt was the win over Brazil which will have really made people sit up and take notice of a new force on the world stage, though, and they deserved their victory over the five-time champions too.

Everyone has known about Belgium's talent for some time now, but they have now begun to show it on the biggest stage. They were also tipped as dark horses last World Cup, only to fall to Argentina in the quarter-finals in what was their first appearance at the tournament since 2002.

6.46pmThis time around, though, not only have Belgium won every game in normal time - something no other semi-finalist has managed - but they are also the competition's leading scorers with 14 goals - the most at this stage of a World cup since Brazil's star-studded side of 2002 notched 15 before the last four.

What's more, Belgium have also had nine different goalscorers, which is a tally on Italy in 2006 and France in 1982 (10 each) can better in World Cup history.

6.48pmA lot of credit has to go to Roberto Martinez for that, with the former Everton boss rebuilding his reputation since taking over at Belgium. The Spaniard's reign began with defeat to his home country, but since then Belgium are unbeaten in 24 matches across all competitions, winning 19 of those.

Belgium have won the last seven of those, and in the World Cup alone they have won nine of their last 10 outings, with the only exception being that quarter-final defeat to Argentina four years ago.

6.50pmPREDICTION! Right, we're 10 minutes away from kickoff in Saint Petersburg, which means that it is time for a prediction!

This is such a difficult one to call between two teams brimming with both confidence and ability. both sides could flourish in an open game and hopefully we will see a match befitting of the talent on display, but we're going to side marginally with France. It really could go either way, though!

SPORTS MOLE SAYS: France 2-1 Belgium

6.52pmThese two nations know each other very well - indeed Belgium are the team France have faced more often than any other, with this being their 74th meeting.

Somewhat surprisingly, Belgium actually boast the better record over the 73 previous games, winning 30 of them to France's 24. Belgium are also unbeaten in the last three meetings, winning one and drawing two.

6.54pmThat victory came in the most recent meeting between the two sides when Belgium raced into a 3-0 lead inside 50 minutes in June 2015 before eventually holding on for a thrilling 4-3 victory.

France have won all three previous meetings at major tournaments, though, the most recent of which came at the 1986 World Cup when they ran out 4-2 winners in the third-placed playoff.

6.56pmLes Bleus also won 3-1 when the two sides met in the first round of the 1938 World Cup - the only other previous World Cup meeting - and were convincing winners one again when they met at the 1984 European Championship.

Michel Platini was the star of the show that day with a hat-trick in a 5-0 group-stage victory, setting France well on their way to eventually lifting the trophy.

6.58pmCan you feel the excitement building? We are just a coupe of minutes away from kickoff in the first World Cup semi-final, with the winners earning a place against either Croatia or England in Sunday's final. Here is a quick reminder of the team news before we get started...

FRANCE STARTING XI: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, L Hernandez; Pogba, Kante, Matuidi; Mbappe, Giroud, Griezmann

BELGIUM STARTING XI: Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Chadli, Witsel, Fellaini, Dembele; De Bruyne, Lukaku, E Hazard

1 minKICKOFF: Here we go! The first World Cup semi-final of 2018 gets underway with Antoine Griezmann kicking us off!

1 minWith barely 10 seconds on the clock Mbappe gives the first glimpse of his lightning pace down the right before playing a low ball into the box which Griezmann cannot latch on to.

3 minThere was a lot of talk regarding Belgium's tactics tonight, and it looks as though Chadli will be playing as an orthodox right-back, rather than a wing-back. Interesting test for the West Brom player, who is not used to playing so deep.

4 minThat said, Chadli has just got forward a couple of times and had a couple of changes to swing the ball into the box. The second sees the ball cleared as far as De Bruyne, who whips a trademark wicked delivery into the box which is just too far ahead of Fellaini.

6 minThe opening five minutes or so have only served to in crease the intrigue of the game. France started on top, but Belgium have just begun to take control of the contest and are putting a bit of pressure on the French defence now.

7 minA sharp dart down the left sees Hazard ghost past Pavard before playing the ball into the box, but Umtiti is there to knock it behind for a corner. Chadli comes across to take it, but he overhits it badly and it goes out for a goal kick.

9 minBelgium are dominating possession at the moment, with France pinned back into their own half. This has been a very ominous start from the Belgians, and some of their key players look in the mood tonight.

11 minFrance respond as Pogba wins the ball back in a good position and clips an aerial cross into the box. Mbappe watches it over his shoulder and tries to divert it inside, but it is behind Giroud and Vertonghen is able to hack it away.

13 minAlmost an incredible break from France as they win the ball back and Pogba glides past Dembele. His ball through towards Mbappe looks too heavy, but that pace of his almost sees him reach it. Courtois is alert to gather, though.

15 minThis time it is almost Belgium's chance to break as De Bruyne drives forward through midfield, but he and Lukaku are not on the same page. Lots of very encouraging half-breaks, though.

16 minSHOT! The first effort of the game comes from Belgium as France give the ball away carelessly. De Bruyne is immediately in there and pokes the ball to Hazard, who drills a low strike a yard or so wide of the far post.

18 minSAVE! France respond with the first shot on target of the match! The ball comes out to Matuidi around 25 yards from goal and he powers an effort towards goal, but it is easy enough for Courtois to deal with.

19 minCLOSE! My word, this is close to the opening goal of the game! Hazard looks like he has the beating of Pavard tonight and he dips inside, bursting past the full-back before curling one towards goal. It is certainly goalbound, but Varane manages to get a crucial head to the ball while wrestling with Fellaini to flick it just over the crossbar!

20 minBelgium come forward again here and a cross into the box from De Bruyne almost finds Fellaini, but Lloris comes flying out of his goal to punch the ball clear.

22 minSAVE! Lloris has made a couple of stunning saves in this tournament, and this is right up there! A corner into the box drops to the feet of Alderweireld, who manages to dig a shot out and wrap his foot around the ball. Lloris is at full stretch, though, and manages to get his fingertips to the ball to deny his Tottenham teammate. Incredible save!

23 minCHANCE! Half a chance for France in response here as Umtiti pings a beauty of a ball over the top of the defence for Giroud, who manages to get a toe to the ball but cannot steer it on target. It would have been a stunning effort if he managed to make anything of that.

25 minThis game is heating up very nicely indeed. Belgium have been on top for the most part, but both teams have spent spells in the ascendency and now it is France's turn to be on top.

27 minThis game has flown by so far. We may still be goalless, but there is so much talent on both sides that it is a joy to watch.

28 minDe Bruyne earns a yard down the left flank before playing a dangerous low cross into the box which Umtiti does really well to deal with with Lukaku lurking.

30 minVertonghen gets a stern talking-to for a late challenge on Mbappe, who was on his way after flicking the ball off. That was a naughty one by the Tottenham man.

31 minCHANCE! Griezmann plays a free kick short to Pavard to improve the angle of any cross, and while Pavard's delivery is poor, Giroud manages to make something of it. His backward header almost drifts in, but Courtois watches it all the way wide.

32 minHazard has just produced a dazzling run down the left which saw some incredible close control before eventually running out of pitch. He is almost unstoppable when in this form.

33 minSHOT! Griezmann picks the ball up in space outside the area, but he is forced to cut inside onto his weaker right foot and subsequently scoops his effort high over the crossbar.

34 minCHANCE! Big chance for France! France win the ball back in a dangerous area and Griezmann immediately lifts it over to Mbappe on the right. The PSG cushions a perfect pass into the path of Giroud, but he is a little slow to react to the situation and makes a complete mess of his finish.

36 minLess than 10 minutes remaining in this first half now, and it is one which will only whet the appetite further for the second half. It has been full of quality.

37 minSHOT! Some lovely football from France sees them break out and launch a counter-attack, with Griezmann leading the charge. He turns down the chance to pass to Mbappe or Giroud and eventually goes for goal himself, dragging his effort wide of the target.

39 minCHANCE! Another big chance for France, who should be ahead now! Mbappe pokes the ball into the path of Pavard, who finds himself with only Courtois to beat, but the Belgian keeper spreads himself and makes a crucial save. It is a good stop, but Pavard really should have scored.

41 minBig save from Courtois there, but still not quite the save of the game so far. That accolade belongs to Hugo Lloris...

43 minHazard looks to embark on another darting run, but this time he is dispossessed by Kante and France launch an attack which ends with them winning a free kick in a very dangerous position...

44 minIt is a big old Belgian wall separating Griezmann from the goal, though, and he fires his free kick right into the middle of it.

45+1 minThere will be one minutes of added time at the end of this first half.

45+1 minCHANCE! De Bruyne whips another fine ball into the box which Umtiti misses, and Lukaku cannot react in time as the ball hits him and goes behind for a goal kick.

45+1 minHALF TIME: France 0-0 Belgium

7.56pmThe first half comes to an end in Saint Petersburg, and what an engrossing first half it has been!

We remain goalless between France and Belgium, but the quality has been really high and the game is balanced on a knife edge here. both teams have shown that they have the ability to hurt the other in the blink of an eye, and we should be in for a brilliant second half!

7.58pmBoth teams have had chances to break the deadlock, and the best have fallen to France so far despite Belgium being on top for the most part.

Giroud was slow to react with his chance after good work from Griezmann and Mbappe, fluffing his lines with his finish, while Pavard was denied by a big save from Courtois towards the end of the half when he really should have scored.

8pmHugo Lloris has also pulled off a stunning stop - one of the saves of the tournament - to keep the scores level, denying his Tottenham teammate Toby Alderweireld with a flying save to the right.

Hazard has been the star performer for Belgium so far and almost gave them the lead on two occasions, first with a low drive across the face of goal which flashed wide and then being denied with a curling effort which Varane flicked over his own crossbar.


Belgium have enjoyed the majority of possession in this match, but the shot count is fairly heavily in favour of France. Check out all the match stats for this game by clicking here.

46 minKICKOFF: Belgium get us back underway for the second half in Saint Petersburg!

48 minCHANCE! He has a very quiet first half, but Lukaku has already been involved more in this second half. Witsel swings a cross into the box and Lukaku gets there ahead of Varane, but he cannot keep his header down.

50 minBelgium have made a positive start to this second half, but such is the delicate nature of this game that France can break quickly and hit them on the break in the blink of an eye.

51 minGOAL! France 1-0 Belgium (Samuel Umtiti)

51 minFirst blood to France! It doesn't come from a counter-attack, but from a corner as Samuel Umtiti darts to the front post before glancing a header past Courtois at the near post!

The Barcelona man gets above Fellaini - which is no mean feat itself - and the final touch may well come off the Manchester United man. No doubt that Umtiti will be claiming it, though!

France defender Samuel Umtiti wheels away in celebration after scoring the opening goal of his side's World Cup semi-final with Belgium on July 10, 2018© Reuters

53 minThat is a huge, huge goal for France. Belgium now have no option but to throw more caution to the wind, and that could well suit France with the pace of Mbappe.

55 min

56 minCHANCE! Another devastating break for France sees them break forward through Mbappe down the right, and he plays the ball across for Matuidi. Matuidi's effort is blocked, but France keeps the pressure on and Mbappe then produces the most impudent of flicks to send the ball into the path of Giroud, who is thwarted inside the area.

58 minMbappe really is something special, and at just 19 years old he is only going to get better too. Real Madrid must be opening their cheque books following today's news of Ronaldo's exit as Hazard and Mbappe have been brilliant tonight.

60 minBELGIUM SUB: The first change of the night unsurprisingly comes from Belgium as Dries Mertens replaces Dembele.

61 minAlmost a chance for Belgium as Mertens is immediately involved, getting to the byline and standing a cross into the middle. The ball is only cleared as far as De Bruyne, but he scuffs his volley into the arms of Lloris.

63 minYELLOW CARD! Hazard is the first name in the book tonight for a cynical challenge on Matuidi following a rare mistake from De Bruyne.

65 minCHANCE! Mertens has made an impact already here, and he swings a good cross into the box which Fellaini meets with a powerful downward header which bounces just wide of the target.

67 minMbappe is really enjoying himself here. He skips away from De Bruyne and then clips a pass over to Griezmann, whose control is instant. He plays the ball back into the path of Giroud, who fires the ball well over the crossbar.

69 minA good omen for Les Bleus?

71 minYELLOW CARD! Alderweireld goes into the book for a cynical challenge on Matuidi.

73 minJust over 15 minutes remaining in this World Cup semi-final now and Belgium are really beginning to run out of time now. Their pressure has begun to grow in the last five minutes or so and France are dropping increasingly deep, but those seconds are ticking away.

75 minHere is that incredible piece of skill from Mbappe which created a chance for Giroud. The man is only 19 years old, and he is doing this in a World Cup semi-final!

76 minSHOT! De Bruyne picks the ball up in a bit of space just outside the area, but he is quickly closed down and his eventual effort is wild and flies over the crossbar.

78 minA second for France now would surely kill this game off, but Belgium have to throw caution to the wind. They know that France have the ability to hurt them on the break, but they simply have to start taking risks now.

80 minReally good play from Hazard as he darts into the box and almost draws a foul before being pushed out of the area. He is then felled by his Chelsea teammate Giroud, but somehow the referee does not give a free kick right on the edge.

80 minBELGIUM SUB: Another change for Belgium sees Yannick Carrasco replace Fellaini.

81 minSAVE! Hazard again embarks on a run but this time Varane dives in with a perfectly-timed challenge. The ball comes out to Witsel who drives a ferocious effort towards goal which Lloris needs to parry away.

83 minMoments after that save there was a heavy collision between Hazard and Matuidi, the latter of whom is still down and needing treatment. He bore the brunt of that one from Hazard, who left a little on him.

85 minFRANCE SUB: France make their first change of the match as Steven N'Zonzi replaces Giroud. I suspect there will be a couple more coming to run that clock down.

86 minFRANCE SUB: Matuidi is still feeling the effects of that Hazard collision and he makes way here to be replaced by Corentin Tolisso.

87 minYELLOW CARD! Kante goes into the book for a foul on Hazard, who was always the wrong side of his Chelsea teammate.

89 minThe initial free kick is eventually scrambled clear by France but De Bruyne soon has the ball at his feet again and this time he pings a pass over the top which is inches away from the head of Lukaku.

90+1 minThere will be SIX minutes of added time at the end of this match! Still time for Belgium!

90+1 minBELGIUM SUB: One last throw of the dice for Belgium as Chadli is replaced by Michy Batshuayi.

90+2 minYELLOW CARD! Mbappe now goes into the book for dribbling the ball away when Belgium were trying to get it back.

90+3 minCHANCE! Chance for France to put this game to bed as the ball is laid into the path of Griezmann, whose finish is a tired one and is easy for Courtois.

90+4 minYELLOW CARD! Again the ref goes to his book, this time to show Vertonghen a yellow for a foul on Mbappe.

90+6 minCHANCE! Another big chance for France to kill this game off once and for all. The ball is worked to Tolisso in space and he really should score, but Courtois makes another good save.

90+7 minFULL TIME: France 1-0 Belgium


8.58pmWhat a performance from France that is - full of attacking flair from Mbappe and defensive solidity. Neither team played badly tonight and Belgium can feel themselves a touch unlucky to crash out here consider how impressive they have been in this tournament.

Football matches at this level are determined by the narrowest of margins, though, and in the end Umtiti's header was the difference. France are in their third World Cup final in the past 20 years, whereas Belgium will face either Croatia or England in the third-placed playoff.

France defender Samuel Umtiti celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of his side's World Cup semi-final with Belgium on July 10, 2018© Reuters

9pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening!

Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's World Cup semi-final as France pip Belgium to a place in Sunday's showpiece in Moscow. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.

I don't need to remind you that there is another semi-final taking place tomorrow night containing England as they take on Croatia, and you can follow every twist and turn of that match with us from 6pm.

From me, though, it is goodbye for now!

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Belgium coach Roberto Martinez and assistant Thierry Henry during the friendly against Costa Rica on June 11, 2018
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