Samuel Umtiti heads France into World Cup final

France has made it to the World Cup final and will surely fancy their chances of being reunited with that coveted piece of gold in Moscow on Sunday.

The players in blue were embracing and a Belgium side heavily made up of players from the Premier League will have to wonder whether the time will ever come for their golden generation.

Samuel Umtiti was the hero for France as his second-half header sealed a 1-0 victory over Belgium and a place in the World Cup final.

The Barcelona defender rose high at the near post on 51 minutes to divert an Antoine Griezmann corner beyond Thibaut Courtois as France edged a tense, tactical semi-final in Saint Petersburg.

Eden Hazard nearly capped an electric start to the game with a crisp strike into the top corner after 19 minutes, but an excellent defensive header from Raphael Varane rescued France.

When Lloris was called upon he proved up to the task, launching himself to his right three minutes later to tip Tottenham team-mate Toby Alderweireld’s shot on the turn behind.

As much as Belgium dictated play and created the better chances, France remained dangerous in attack and ended the half the stronger of the two sides.

Olivier Giroud should have done better when Griezmann and Mbappe combined to present him with a sight of the Belgian goal on 34 minutes but Courtois made himself big for the striker to convert to goal.

After Giroud had seen a shot blocked behind for a corner off Vincent Kompany, Manchester United striker Lukaku was made to pay as Umtiti stole a march at the near post to power a header beyond Courtois.

France pushed for a quick-fire second as brilliance from Mbappe set up Blaise Matuidi and Giroud for chances, both of which were blocked, before the introduction of Dries Mertens brought Belgium back into contention.

But there was no way through the French defence for Belgium – Lloris parrying away Witsel’s long-range effort – as their World Cup hopes fizzled out at one end, and fine saves from Courtois to deny Griezmann and Corentin Tolisso kept the scoreline respectable at the other.

The result means it will be bronze at best for Belgium’s golden generation at Russia 2018.