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Vive la France: Les Bleus advance to World Cup final

AP  |  St Petersburg 

They're young, they're brash and they're collectively worth a billion dollars. The one thing missing for this French squad is an international title.

Kylian Mbappe, and are about to get that chance. Les Bleus are headed to final.

clinched a 1-0 win over and earned the approval of watching French in the VIP seats at Stadium by scoring on a header off a corner kick in the 51st minute on Tuesday.

"Vive la France! Vive la Republique!" forward shouted during postgame celebrations.

Umtiti played his part in a strong defensive effort by the French, too, helping to shut out the highest-scoring team at the tournament and leaving Belgium's golden generation of Eden Hazard, and to regret another missed opportunity at a major tournament.

"It's me that scored," Umtiti said, "but we all delivered a big game."

France's players danced on the field after the final whistle and their fans sang in the stands long past the end of the match, surrounded by yellow-clad security.

They certainly hope to keep the party going on Sunday in the final in with an average age of 26 will face either or England, who play Wednesday at the in the Russian capital, and has a shot at redemption after losing its last two major finals at when was sent off for a nasty head-butt and the 2016 European Championship on home soil.

"We're immensely privileged to be in final," France said.

"It was so painful two years ago we have to savor it."


Deschamps now has the chance to become the third person to win as a player and a coach, after great and Brazil's As France captain, Deschamps raised soccer's most prized trophy in 1998.

Deschamps has faced some criticism for being too pragmatic and functional despite having a squad of superstars, but the organization of the team was superb against an opponent that was largely restricted to only minor chances and denied on two occasions by France

He dived to his right midway through the first half to claw away Toby Alderweireld's shot, then got in front of Lukaku to punch away one of the many crosses sent in by in the final stages.

In a tournament dominated by goals from set pieces, France's goal came off a corner when Griezmann curled in the ball from the right and Umtiti got in front of tall to knock in his header at the near post.

Up in the corporate seats, Macron reacted to the goal by shaking the hand of of Belgium as watched on between them.

"Unfortunately for us, the difference is just a dead-ball situation, a set play," Belgium said.

"The game was, as you can imagine, very close, very tight, and it was going to be decided (on) maybe the one that it could find that final touch in the box." After reaching the quarterfinals at and the European Championship in 2016, Belgium again missed the chance to get to an international final and has yet to fulfil its lofty expectations.

Leading the scoring in this tournament with 14 goals, many thought this could be their year.

With Lionel Messi, and Neymar no longer in Russia, and Mbappe have taken over as the stars of the World Cup and there was a buzz every time either got the ball.

Yet while Hazard Belgium's faded after a strong opening 30 minutes, Mbappe was a constant threat. His first touch was after 10 seconds and, after receiving the ball on the right wing, he sped past and then Mousa Dembele in a thrilling run.

At 19, Mbappe wasn't even born when France won the World Cup for the first and only time with a squad that is just as diverse as the one Deschamps is leading 20 years later. Umtiti was born in Mbappe has Algerian-Cameroonian roots.

"It's a pure pleasure to see these players grow," Deschamps said, "and never give up." Instead of a trip to Moscow, Belgium will return to for the third-place match no team wants to play.

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IN THE STANDS

Along with the French and Gabonese presidents and the and queen of Belgium, there was rock 'n' roll royalty watching the game.

was one of the many famous faces in the stands at Stadium. frontman is a big fan, having attended the World Cup final in in 2014 as well as many England games.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, July 11 2018. 10:10 IST
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