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France beat Belgium 1-0 to reach World Cup 2018 final

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SAINT PETERSBURG — Samuel Umtiti’s headed goal in the 51st minute helped France beat Belgium 1-0 and book a place in the World Cup final in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.

France’s own supremely talented young squad will face England or Croatia in Moscow on Sunday as the French look to lift the trophy for the second time following their triumph on home soil in 1998.

In an enthralling tactical match on Tuesday, Belgium took early control of midfield with France content to sit deep and eliminate the threat of counter-attacks from Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne.

But it was by no means a purely negative approach as the French offered their own danger on the break, perfectly illustrated when Paul Pogba’s delivery sent Kylian Mbappe racing towards goal and Belgium were thankful their keeper Thibaut Courtois was alert to snuff out the danger.

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France were thankful for fine saves from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris either side of half-time. Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne warned Kylian Mbappe was ready to take the world by storm on the eve of the game and the most expensive teenager in the history of football showed why inside the first 60 seconds.

He skipped past Jan Vertonghen with ease and only a last-ditch tackle by Vincent Kompany prevented Griezmann from latching onto his cross. Thibaut Courtois rushed from his goal just in time to save Vertonghen again from Mbappe’s pace on 12 minutes, but it was Belgium who started the better in possession.

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France beats Croatia 4-2 to clinch 2nd World Cup title

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MOSCOW — France has clinched its second FIFA World Cup title after beating Croatia 4-2 in the finals in Moscow on Sunday in the highest-scoring final since 1966.

France led 2-1 at halftime courtesy of the first own-goal and the first video-reviewed penalty in a World Cup final. The own-goal off the top of Mario Mandzukic’s head was the 12th of the tournament.

Argentine referee Nestor Pitana initially didn’t call the handball but awarded the spot kick after a video review – the first time in a World Cup final. Antoine Griezmann converted the penalty to put France back in front.

Croatia rallied to equalize with a terrific left-foot strike by Ivan Perisic; however France took the lead right back when Perisic handled the ball in his own penalty area.

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The match was temporarily disrupted when four pitch invaders ran onto the field in the 52nd minute before being dragged away by security and police.

Punk rock group Pussy Riot quickly claimed responsibility for the pitch invasion via social media, saying it was a protest aimed at ending illegal arrests of protesters and to allow political competition in Russia.

Play resumed and France quickly took a 4-1 lead with goals from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe in the 59th and 65th minutes.

Croatia was playing in its first World Cup final. For France, it was a first World Cup crown since winning on home soil in 1998.

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