Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Umtiti's goal sends France charging into the finals

Umtiti's goal sends France charging into the finals

'It's their right to play like that... but it's not nice to see. Several players have club teammates on the opposite bench.

The Chelsea midfielder idolised Zinedine Zidane as a kid and moved to France at the age of 14 to join the academy at Lille, where he would go on to make his professional debut at 16 in November 2007.

The two countries share 385 miles of border. One's witty entertainment, the other's great art. "It's not the Thierry Henry show; I am here to help the squad".

After finding opportunities, but failing to score in the first half, France finally broke through with the decisive goal from Samuel Umtiti in the 51st minute.

One of the Red Devils' many French connections was the biggest danger, as Eden Hazard, who began his career with Lille in Ligue 1, pulled the first attempt of goal just beyond the far post.

Oleffe said he plans to watch the game at home with his girlfriend, who happens to be French.

'Unfortunately for us the difference was a dead ball situation, a set play, ' Martinez said. "He hasn't told me what he's going to do". They weren't overwhelmed by Les Bleus, nor could they find a crack to exploit.

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Maybe he'll just hide in the loo.

Before the match, Henry was being equally social, chatting with French players and embracing the opposition manager, Didier Deschamps.

"I'm pleased for him, he's somebody I appreciate". That first Cup-winning team from 20 years ago? "Of course, it is a hard situation, it really is not easy for him", said Deschamps.

Deschamps then noted how club players return to homelands as an enemy sometimes.

"I can not tell you everything, because we might apply the same plan against France".

Once ahead, France locked down, robbing the Red Devils' star names of space to pick through in the final third, grinding down the clock - while looking to strike on the counter - until their place in the Moscow finale was confirmed.

An unbelievably disciplined defensive showing from the French team left a talented, attacking Belgium team with few options.

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"But he's working for Belgium now", De Bruyne said hours later.

We at Mediaite HQ are putting our Duvels behind Belgium, though shakily. "That's his job now".

After his team fell behind, Martinez took off Dembele and pulled De Bruyne back into central midfield, and though Belgium did not get a goal, they controlled the play better and created more chances.

The crowd wearing blue and chanting Antoinne Griezmann's name walked to the metro station in a disciplined march as France made it to the World Cup final after 12 years. The madness, the singing, the chanting or the energy was missing from the build-up to the game that rarely reached the dizzy heights of a World Cup semifinal.

Once in front, France had even more space to exploit Mbappe's pace, but it was a majestic piece of skill that almost created a second with a backheel that again freed Giroud only for Mousa Dembele to block.

Both sides know what is like to turn results around during the current World Cup campaign.

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