France beat Belgium to reach final in Russian Federation

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Belgium paid the price for failing to take their chances against France but will now have to shake off their disappointment and focus on finishing third at the World Cup, their coach Roberto Martinez said after his team's defeat in the semi-final. They worked in '98 and we worked today, we reached out target to get to the final.

Martinez's team face the 1998 World Cup winners in St Petersburg tomorrow for a place in the final, marking the first time Belgium have reached this stage of the World Cup since 1986, when they finished fourth.

Belgium's beaten players did not want to talk about the end of an era _ not with stars like 27-year-old De Bruyne, 26-year-old Courtois and 25-year-old Lukaku in the team and more coming through the youth ranks. "It was going to be decided by whoever could find that final touch in the box or a bit of luck in front of goal".

I don't expect either side to sit back and play negative. Samuel Umtiti heads home the go-ahead goal off a corner kick from Antoine Griezmann.

From a Belgium corner, Toby Alderweireld tested Lloris with a smart shot on the turn but as the half progressed France began to create more.

France's football-loving President Emmanuel Macron and Belgian King Philippe were watching from the stands, along with Rolling Stones front-man Sir Mick Jagger.

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"I'm very proud of them, I'm very proud of their mentality as well because I know it's not just that you are playing at a high level that you are going to score goals but with our state of mind we can climb mountains and that's what we've done so far", said the French manager Deschamps.

In search of the equalizer, Belgium repeatedly sent over crosses from both wings but Umtiti and Varane used their bodies cleverly to hold off Fellaini and Lukaku.

Belgium held a full-squad training session ahead of the match at their World Cup base camp outside Moscow, while France head coach Didier Deschamps said that all his players were ready for the encounter.

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

And the presence of French World Cup victor Thierry Henry on the Belgian coaching staff as one of Roberto Martinez's assistants adds extra spice to the occasion.

"Vive la France! Vive la Republique!" The Red Devils and Les Bleus are competing for a spot in the World Cup final, and both teams are bringing world-class attacking talent to the match. But we will be ready because we have an extremely good state of mind, and it is the semi-finals in the World Cup. On 30 minutes, Olivier Giroud tried a header that flew wide of the post before Griezmann opened up some space and blasted the ball well over the bar.

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