ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — France advanced to the World Cup final for the first time since 2006 with a 1-0 win over Belgium on Tuesday.
Samuel Umtiti scored the only goal with a header in the 51st minute.
France, the 1998 champion and 2006 runner-up, will play either Croatia or England in Sunday’s final in Moscow.
Speaking after the game, Belgium manager Roberto Martinez said: “It was a dead ball situation which was the difference.
“It was a close game and it was very tight and it was going to be decided by that bit of luck in front of goal. The attitude of the players was brilliant and we couldn’t ask for anymore. We have to understand one team wins and the other loses, and we did what we could.”
Asked about the French goal, Martinez added: “That is the type of detail that counts in the semi-final of the World Cup. We have one game left and I want to ensure we finish the tournament on a high because these players don’t deserve to leave here with a bad taste.”
France will face England or Croatia in the World Cup final after edging past European neighbours Belgium in the semi-final in St Petersburg.
Defender Samuel Umtiti scored the winning goal for the 1998 champions in the second half with a towering header from Antoine Griezmann’s corner.
Didier Deschamps’ side were on the back foot for large periods of the game, but emerged victorious to reach their third final, having been beaten by Italy on penalties in 2006.
Belgium came through the quarter-finals by impressively beating Brazil, but they were unable to find the equaliser, as Axel Witsel’s powerful, long-range drive was pushed away by Hugo Lloris, who also brilliantly kept out Toby Alderweireld’s turn and shot.
At the final whistle, the France substitutes ran on the pitch to celebrate with the players, while manager Didier Deschamps was mobbed by his staff before dancing around in a circle.
England play Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow in the second semi-final on Wednesday (kick-off 19:00 BST) and the final takes places at the same venue on Sunday (16:00 BST).