FIFA World Cup 2018 semifinal: France vs Belgium - As it happened

Belgium showed a lot of heart and played an aggressive brand of football in the first semi-final of the FIFA World Cup 2018. In the end, it was a 51st minute goal that propelled the French into the title clash of the tournament.  

FIFA World Cup 2018 semifinal: France vs Belgium - As it happened
Pic courtesy: Twitter/@equipedefrance

Belgium began the first semi-final of FIFA World Cup 2018 with positive intent, dominating possession against France. The goalless scoreline in the first-half saw a dramatic twist in the 51st minute when Samuel Umtiti headed a crafty corner into the net to dash Belgium hopes and take France to their first final since 2006.  

Here are the match highlights from St. Petersburg:

Full-time! France are through to the finals,  courtesy a 1-0 win vs Belgium.

90+3 minute: Yellow card!  Belgium's Jan Vertonghen gets booked for a challenge on Mbappe. 

90+2 minute: Yellow card! France's Mbappe gets booked for wasting time. 

6 minutes of Stoppage time!!

89 minute: MISS!! Kevin De Bruyne chips the ball into the French box to find Lukaku at close-range but Lukaku fails to make a contact. Belgium need to make the most of their chances here as they are running out of time. 

88 minute: Yellow card! N'Golo Kante gets booked for a challenge on Hazard. Free-kick to Belgium. 

86 minute: Substitution for France, Corentin Tolisso replaces Blaise Matuidi. 

85 minute: Substitution for France, Giroud is replaced by Nzonzi. 

81 minute: Belgium's Axel Witsel fires a bullet towards the French goal but Lloris makes a brilliant save. 

79 minute: Substitution for Belgium, Marouane Fellaini is replaced by Yannick Carrasco. 

76 minute: Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne attempts a shot from distance but clouds the ball away from the goal. 

71 minute: Yellow card!  Belgium's Toby Alderweireld gets booked for a foul on Blaise Matuidi. 

68 minute: Griezmann finds Giroud outside the box but the latter skies the ball away from the goal. 

65 minute: MISS!! Dries Mertens makes a brilliant cross from the far corner but Marouane Fellaini heads it wide. That was close.  

63 minute: Yellow card! Belgium's Eden Hazard gets booked for a challenge on Blaise Matuidi. 

62 minute: MISS!! Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne fails to hit shot on target after a feeble clearance from Raphael Varane. 

61 minute: Substitution for Belgium, Dries Mertens is in for Mousa Dembele. 

Interestingly, Eight of the last 12 goals have come from headers in this World Cup. 

56 minute:  Brilliant play after Mbappe makes a back-heel pass to Giroud in the box but Goalkeeper Courtois. 

54 minute: Free-kick to France at a promising position. But the Belgium defence clears the ball to safety. 

France 1-0 Belgium 

51 minute: GOAL!!! Samuel Umtiti heads France's first goal in the match off a corner from Griezmann. What a goal. France take the lead. 

48 minute: MISS!! Belgium's Axel Witsel curls the ball to find Lukaku in the middle, but Lukaku heads the ball over the crossbar. 

Second-half is underway!

 

 

France 0-0 Belgium !!

Half-time!!

45+1 minute: MISS!! Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne whips the ball in from the right-flank but Lukaku fails to make the most of defender Samuel Umtiti's error. 

1 minute of Stoppage time!

44 minute: Free-kick for France at a dangerous position. Griezmann hits it straight to the Belgium wall. 

39 minute: SAVED!!  France's Pavard fires a shot from close range but the Belgium goalkeeper Courtois blocks it away for a corner. That was close. 

36 minute: France make another attack as Griezmann makes a solo run and attempts a shot from distance but hits it wide. Both teams hunt for the first-breakthrough.

34 minute: MISS!! France's Mbappe makes a brilliant cross to Giroud who fails to have a shot on goal. France are up and attacking here. 

31 minute: Free-kick to France. Griezmann curls the ball and finds Olivier Giroud in the Belgium box, the latter's header misses the goal by a whisker. That was close. 

25 minute: Corner for France. Antoine Griezmann whips the ball in to find Belgium's Marouane Fellaini, who heads the ball away to safety. 

21 minute: Corner for Belgium. SAVED!! Toby Alderweireld turns to fire a shot on target but French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris leaps to right to make a brilliant save. That was going in. 

19 minute:  MISS!!  Hazard curls the ball from distance but it is deflected away by Raphael Varane for a corner. 

15 minute: Eden Hazard picks up a pass from Kevin De Bruyne, but hits the ball wide. 

12 minute: France's Paul Pogba attempt a long through-pass to Kylian Mbappe, who threatened with a shot but goalkeeper Courtois charged forward to collect the ball. That was close. 

7 minute: France hold early possession as they operate in the midfield, forcing France to defend deep. 

5 minute:  Corner for Belgium. Hazard attempts to find a teammate with his cross from the corner but France defender clears the ball for a corner. 

1 minute: France make the first charge as Kylian Mbappe races into the far corner from the left-flank but his cross gets cleared by the Belgium defence. What a start. 

Kick-off!!

 

 

Lineups

Belgium XI: Thibaut Courtois; Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen; Axel Witsel; Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin De Bruyne; Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard.

France XI: Hugo Lloris; Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Hernandez; N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba; Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi; Olivier Giroud.

Belgium appear in their first semi-final since 1986, after defeating five-time champions Brazil 2-1 in the quarter-finals. France, on the other hand, will play their sixth World Cup semi-finals after a comfortable 2-0 win over Uruguay. 

Both the sides have only met twice in the tournament, with France getting the better of Belgium on both the occasions, 3-1 in 1938 and 4-2 at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.  

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez would rely on star strikers, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard to come good against in-form Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba.  

Squads:

France: 

Goalkeepers- Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda, Alphonse Areola. 

Defenders- Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Adil Rami, Benjamin Pavard, Presnel Kimpembe, Bernard Mendy, Djibril Sidibe, Lucas Hernandez.

Midfielders- Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Thomas Lemar, Corentin Tolisso, Steven N’Zonzi. 

Forwards- Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Nabil Fekir, Ousmane Dembele, Florian Thauvin. 

Belgium: 

Goalkeepers- Koen Casteels, Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet. 

Defenders- Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Leander Dendoncker, Vincent Kompany, Thomas Meunier, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen. 

Midfielders- Yannick Carrasco, Nacer Chadli, Kevin De Bruyne, Mousa Dembele, Marouane Fellaini, Thorgan Hazard, Adnan Januzaj, Youri Tielemans, Axel Witsel. 

Forwards- Michy Batshuayi, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens.