France vs Belgium (FIFA World Cup 2018 LIVE COMMENTARY)

FIFA World Cup 2018 Semi-final fixtures

This is the 61st Match in the FIFA World Cup 2018 holding in Moscow, Russia.

Semi-final fixtures
Date, Venue, Time:
Tuesday 10 July
France and Belgium at St Petersburg, 7pm

___SCORE: France 1-0 Belgium___


France will have all eyes on tomorrow’s semi-final between England and Croatia as they wait to find out who they will tackle in Moscow on Sunday, with Deschamps looking to join Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer as those who have lifted the World Cup as a player and a manager. Belgium have one final game before they head home from Russia, tackling the losers of Wednesday’s semi-final in the third place playoff.
Samuel Umtiti’s headed goal puts France into their third World Cup final, all of which have come in the past 20 years. Belgium performed admirably and had chances to beat Hugo Lloris but they did not take those opportunities. Blaise Matuidi, Raphael Varane and Kylian Mbappe were superb and Belgium’s golden generation see their thrilling 24-match unbeaten run come to an end.
90′ + 6′ SAVE! Courtois again called into action to prevent France from doubling their advantage, as Tolisso collects the ball and tries to slot home with a tidy finish.
90′ + 5′ France doing everything they can to run down the clock and Belgium are struggling to get out of their own half.
90′ + 4′ Another yellow card goes Belgium’s way as Vertonghen comes in late on Mbappe.
90′ + 3′ SAVE! Chance for France to finish the tie as Griezmann strikes a low effort at goal from just outside the box but it is a comfortable save for Courtois.
90′ + 2′ Mbappe dribbles the ball away from a Belgium throw to waste time, earning a yellow card.
90′ + 1′ Third and final change for Belgium as Martinez has a last throw of the dice, replacing Chadli with Batshuayi.
90′ + 1′ Into six minutes of added time in the first of the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.
90′ Time is running out for Belgium, who continue to throw everyone forward while France pack the defence as they look to clinch a famous win.
88′ De Bruyne floats a cross from the free-kick into the box but N’Zonzi superbly heads away. The Manchester City man then fires a stunning ball towards Lukaku but he is unable to latch onto the end of the pass.
87′ Kante fouls club team-mate Hazard, conceding a free-kick in a dangerous position and earning the France midfielder a yellow card.
86′ Matuidi is down again, much to the annoyance of Belgium, and he is replaced by Tolisso.
85′ France replace Giroud with their first change of the game, bringing on N’Zonzi in his place.
83′ Matuidi requires treatment after colliding with Hazard. He has been fantastic tonight and fortunately he will be able to continue.
81′ SAVE! Varane brilliantly tackles Hazard but the ball falls to Witsel, who fires a stinging shot towards goal that Lloris punches away.
80′ Confirmation of Carrasco’s introduction as Belgium’s second substitute, taking the place of Fellaini.
80′ Belgium unfortunate not to win a free-kick in a dangerous shooting position after Giroud brings Hazard to ground but the referee waves play on.
79′ Mbappe wins a free-kick out wide on the right after being fouled by Fellaini but Griezmann’s cross is headed over the bar by Pogba.
77′ Thierry Henry, a member of France’s 1998 World Cup winning squad, issues further instructions to Carrasco as the former Atletico Madrid man prepares to take to the field as Belgium’s next substitute.

75′ France are running down the clock as they look to seal their spot in their third World Cup final, which would be their first since 2006.
73′ Belgium continue to throw men forward as they chase an equalising goal but France’s defence is standing firm. Both Varane and Umtiti have impressed tonight, while Pogba has also tracked back to help.
71′ Alderweireld picks up Belgium’s second booking of the game after clipping the heels of Matuidi to prevent a France counter-attack.
69′ France have taken their foot off the gas since taking the lead and changes from Didier Deschamps are likely imminently. Dembele’s pace off the bench could be a huge asset as the match progresses.
67′ Mbappe has been brilliant for France tonight and he leads the latest attack for Les Bleus, which finishes with Giroud lashing a shot way over the top of the goal.
65′ WIDE! Belgium are enjoying a decent period of the ball and Mertens has already provided an impact, whipping a cross to the head of Fellaini but his attempt fails to force Lloris into action.
63′ The first yellow card of the game is issued to Hazard, who pulls Matuidi to ground to prevent a France counter-attack.
61′ De Bruyne wastes a golden opportunity for Belgium as the ball drops to the midfielder inside the box but he cannot connect properly with his first-time attempt, sending an effort bouncing into the arms of a grateful Lloris.
60′ An hour gone in Saint Petersburg and Belgium make the game’s first change, replacing Dembele with Mertens.
58′ Only Harry Kane (6 goals) has been involved in more goals at the 2018 World Cup than Griezmann (3 goals, 2 assists).
56′ Brilliant from Mbappe! The teenager flicks a deft backheel into the path of Giroud, who is prevented from doubling the scoring by Courtois as he charges off his line.
55′ Griezmann hovers over the ball, with the angle not allowing a shot, and his cross is headed away by Kompany.

53′ Matuidi has been brilliant for France this evening and draws a foul off Dembele, conceding a dangerous free-kick.
51′ Griezmann has been kept quiet for the majority of the game but his cross for Umtiti was superb, inviting the attacking players to get onto the end of his ball.
51′ GOOOOAL! 1-0! France strike first from the resulting corner! Griezmann curls a cross towards the near post where Umtiti rises above Fellaini to head home, with the ball also taking a touch off the Belgium midfielder.
50′ Giroud swiftly turns Kompany to provide room for a shot but the Manchester City defender gets a crucial boot to the ball, deflecting the ball behind for a corner.

49′ Nine of the last 12 semi-finals have been 0-0 at half-time.
47′ OVER! Witsel whips an inviting ball into the penalty area where Lukaku rises above the defenders but heads his attempt over the bar.
46′ Belgium get us back underway for the second period.

France have been wasteful with the golden opportunities they have created, with Giroud in particular showing poor finishing, and that will need to improve for the second period. Belgium have been banging on the door, with Hazard their most dangerous outlet, but they need Lukaku to be on the end of De Bruyne’s dangerous deliveries.
A very balanced first period with both sides having dangerous moments in front of goal, requiring Courtois and Lloris to make fine saves. Belgium had the better of the opportunities early on but the tempo of the match shifted in France’s favour as the game edged closer towards the break.


45′ + 1′ CHANCE! Lukaku almost has the goal at his mercy as another dangerous cross from De Bruyne creates havoc for the France defence but the ball hits the striker and bounces out of danger.
45′ Dembele pulls back Pogba is fortunate to escape a booking, conceding a free-kick in a dangerous position. However, Griezmann strikes an effort straight into the wall.
43′ It has been a fairly even contest but both teams will have areas to improve in the second period and it looks like a game that could be decided by just a single goal.
41′ Giroud has now gone seven hours of football at the World Cup without managing a single shot on target.
39′ WHAT A SAVE! France have their best chance of the game as Mbappe flicks a pass through for Pavard, who tries to tuck into the far corner but is prevented by the boot of Courtois.
38′ Short break in play as Giroud requires treatment after a tangle with Dembele but the striker is able to continue.
36′ Belgium have looked to be the most dangerous of the two sides so far but France have created a number of decent opportunities, though their finishing has been poor and has left Courtois untested.

34′ HUGE CHANCE! Griezmann lofts a perfectly weighted ball over the Belgium defence to Mbappe, who cushions a controlled pass across the face of goal towards Giroud but the Chelsea man’s finish is poor and does not threaten his club team-mate Courtois.
33′ France starting to enjoy a threatening period in the match as Giroud and Griezmann combine well, before the latter lashes a shot from distance way over the top of the goal.
31′ WIDE! Griezmann goes short from the free-kick and plays a pass across to Pavard, who lofts a cross into the box where Giroud flicks a header the wrong side of Courtois’ post.
30′ Vertonghen fouls Mbappe in midfield and earns a stern talking to from Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha.
28′ Another dangerous low cross from De Bruyne forces Umtiti to hook the ball away inside the six-yard box before Lukaku could tuck home.
27′ Like Lukaku at the other end, Griezmann has also seen his involvement in the match limited and he has spent a lot of the game inside his own half.
25′ Matuidi and Hernandez link-up well down the left to win a corner, which Griezmann whips towards the near post but Fellaini comfortably heads the ball away.
23′ Belgium are enjoying a very positive period and France are on the back foot. The Red Devils are yet to see much of Lukaku on the ball but De Bruyne and Hazard around him look at their best.
21′ WHAT A SAVE! Chadli’s corner falls to Alderweireld, who shoots after a swift turn to force a superb save from Tottenham team-mate Lloris.
19′ CHANCE! Hazard cuts in from the left and unleashes a venomous shot at goal that Varane crucially deflects over the top of his own net.

18′ SAVE! France have their first effort on goal, as Matuidi fires a fierce effort that stings the gloves of Courtois.
17′ A thrilling end-to-end clash so far, with both Belgium and France exchanging blows in the final third. The match is living up to its billing!
15′ WIDE! France sloppily concede possession and De Bruyne pokes a pass across to Hazard, who drags a low shot across the face of goal.
13′ Pogba leads a threatening counter-attack for France after beating Dembele with a superb piece of skill, then playing a teasing pass through for Mbappe to run onto but Courtois is quick off his line to collect.
12′ Belgium’s haul of 14 goals is the most by the semi-final stage of a World Cup since Brazil in 2002 (15).
10′ France are set up very deep defensively and there is not too much room between their back-line and the midfield, showing that they are giving Belgium’s attack the respect they deserve.
8′ Belgium have France on the back foot, with Hazard looking very lively, but Lloris is yet to be tested despite the early pressure.
6′ Hazard tears down the left, drilling a low cross into the area that Umtiti puts behind for a corner. Chadli moves across to deliver but it goes behind for a goal-kick without any touch.
4′ Belgium’s turn to work through the gears as De Bruyne whips a delightful cross into the middle which Fellaini is unable to get on the end of but Martinez’s side are moving the ball around very well.
3′ France controlling the early tempo of the game and it appears that Belgium are utilising a four-man defence, with Chadli slotting in on the right and Vertonghen on the left.
1′ We are underway in Saint Petersburg in the first of the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, where France get the action started.

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’s route to the final four has been thrilling, with Roberto Martinez’s side winning all five of their games at the World Cup. Japan and Brazil have been overcome in the knockout stages and the Red Devils are now looking to reach the final for the first time in their history, having lost at the semi-final stage to eventual winners Argentina in 1986.
Making their sixth appearance at the semi-final stages of the World Cup, France are aiming to go one better than they did in the European Championships in 2016 and have been in impressive form during their campaign in Russia. Les Bleus have won four of their five games, including victories over Argentina and Uruguay in the knockout stages.
Hello and welcome to this live text commentary of the World Cup semi-final between France and Belgium in Russia.

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