World Cup day 27 in a nutshell: France reach World Cup final for third time

We round up Tuesday’s talking points as France overcome Belgium to reach the World Cup final.

Here are all the talking points from the 27th day of this summer’s World Cup…

The report

France 1-0 Belgium

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

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

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

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

Key quotes

France manager Didier Deschamps: “I’m very proud of the players, 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.”

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez: “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.”

Moment of the day

French sensation Kylian Mbappe once again underlined his mouth-watering potential with a breath-taking performance in Saint Petersburg.

Mbappe gave an early signal of intent when he embarked upon a fleet-footed run within seconds of the kick-off, and would go on to torment the Belgium defence throughout.

Whether Mbappe scores again in Russia remains to be seen but another goal for the tournament’s breakthrough star in Sunday’s final will only further cement his status as the next superstar of world football.

Tweet of the day

In the news

His involvement at Russia 2018 may have ended some time ago but Cristiano Ronaldo sent tremors around the football world on Tuesday when news broke of his decision to leave Real Madrid for Juventus.

The Portugal international has agreed to join the Serie A champions on a four-year deal worth £105m, ending his trophy-laden nine-year spell at the Bernabeu.

The timing of the announcement came in typical Ronaldo fashion, an hour before kick-off in Saint Petersburg. It’s not like the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to try and steal the limelight, is it?

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