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

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

Sensational saves from Hugo Lloris and Courtois prevented the game from setting alight in the first half before Umtiti’s header and a resilient defensive unit proved too tough an obstacle for Roberto Martinez’s men to overcome.

Kylian Mbappe went on a dash into the Belgium territory inside the first minute,with France hoping that would herald a period of first-half dominance they were quickly proven otherwise by the Belgians who were not overawed by their first World Cup semi-final since 1986.

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

Three minutes later Toby Alderweireld’s forced a save from fellow Tottenham star Hugo Lloris .

Belgium created more chances but France were more dangerous on the attack .This was evident has Olivier Giroud should have done better when Griezmann and Mbappe combined to present him with a sight of the Belgian goal on 34 minutes.

Romelu Lukaku had the chance to put a slightly poor first half behind him when Axel Witsel’s cross landed perfectly for him within two minutes of the restart, but he headed over the bar.

Giroud also had his shot blocked behind for a corner off Vincent Kompany.

This means France set their sights on Moscow and a third World Cup final, with either England or Croatia standing between them and football’s greatest prize, while it will be bronze at best for Belgium’s golden generation.

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