FRANCE – BELGIUM – 1: 0
Almost a month, half of the population of our planet does not sleep, watching the football matches of the best world teams, sharing with the football players the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, analyzing the results of matches and waiting for the upcoming meetings. The 21st World Cup in Russia, without exaggeration, was held as a grandiose sports festival, bringing only positive emotions to the fans.
On July 10, the crucial moment to determine the happy pair of teams, which will enter final to win the main trophy of the World Cup. In the first semifinal match, teams of France and Belgium met. Of course, the first team is more titled; the “tricolor” is a winner of the World Championship and a two-time winner of the European Championships. However, in the FIFA rating, Belgians are ahead of the French, and, recently, are the “dark horses” of the football world, from which surprises are awaited, including the first big trophies. Perhaps, today the sensation will take place and the team of Belgium will be the first to enter finals of the 2018 World Cup, the team that is not burdened with fame and prizes, and therefore plays lightly and combinationally.
Andres Cunha from Uruguay was appointed as the main referee of the match, and the arena in St. Petersburg with the same name was chosen as the venue for the first match of the semi-finals of the championship.
Didier Deschamps have headed the French team for six years, and the results of his work can be considered positive. He greatly updated the line-up and introduced new young players to the team. 44-year-old Spanish specialist Roberto Martinez, who is the coach of the “Red Devils”, had no previous experience with the national teams, but, given the Belgian national team’s semi-finals, he does a lot.
The referee whistles and the match begins. The Belgians immediately began an attack, not allowing “tricolor to come to their senses”, and already in the 16th minute, missed chance. The midfielder of “Chelsea” Eden Hazard’s left-footer from the left top of the France box went tantalisingly close to the far post. Three minutes later, he could open the score of the match. This time Eden Hazard’s right footed attempt from the top of the France area was headed out for another Belgium corner
Right away, the “red devils” earn another corner. Nacer Chadli with the delivery again. Hugo Lloris dived full length to his right to palm away the ball for another Belgium corner. Brilliant attempt from defender Toby Alderweireld from Tottenham, who struck a thunderous shot with his left foot.
By the middle of the first half, the Belgian players became tired and the initiative gradually turns to their opponents. In the 34th minute of the match, Olivier Giroud shot it wide after getting the ball from Kylian Mbappe, who made a good run on the right flank and volley the cross in for the tall striker.
In five minutes, Mbappe escalates situation again. This time, with his pas to Benjamin Pavard. The Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (“Chelsea”) deflected it wide with the foot to deny Pavard from a close range.
France and Belgium went into halftime drawing 0-0 in an entertaining first semi-final, with both teams creating half chances but neither able to break the deadlock.
In the first five minutes of the second half, the Belgians began actively. France is in defense. However, … in the 51st minute, it was the “tricolor” opened the score! Attempt of Giroud, most recently transferred to the “Chelsea”, from the top of Belgium box was deflected out by Kompany for a France corner. Griezmann’s delivery from the corner was headed in at the near post by Samuel Umtiti, outjumping Fellaini. Umtiti header put France in the lead. 1:0 President of France Emmanuel Macron receives congratulations, being on the VIP-tribune of the stadium “St. Petersburg”.
After the missed ball, the “red devils” began to play more “open” and attacking football, because they now need to recoup. At the same time, the risk of missing a dangerous counterattack, for Belgian masters of the leather ball is greatly increased. In the 56th minute, chaos in front of Belgium goal. Dembele with a timely block to deny Olivier Giroud from inside the penalty box.
In the 60th minute, Roberto Martinez makes substitution. First change for Belgium: Mousa Dembele is replaced by Dries Mertens. In five minutes, Mertens perfectly cross the ball high above to Fellaini. This time Marouane Fellaini’s powerful header went just wide of France goal.
Time is running out for Belgium. French is counterattacks. It remains to play a little more than 15 minutes. Plus, time added as stoppage…
In the 80th minute, second change for Belgium, in five minutes – the first change for France.
Andres Cunha adds six minutes. Six minutes, during which the French team must keep the winning score, and the “red devils” – try to lead the game into overtime.
In the third minute of compensated time, Antoine Grismann could score the second goal for his team. Thibaut Courtois collected the ball with a dive to deny Griezmann.
The French intelligently “kill” time, the Belgians cannot get through a deep defense line of the “tricolor”. In the last minute, another brilliant save by Thibaut Courtois, this time to deny Corentin Tolisso. But there is no time …
A whistle of Uruguayan referee sounds. Samuel Umtiti’s header in the 51st minute helped France beat Belgium 1:0 in an entertaining first semi-final. Didier Deschamps’ side will face England or Croatia in Moscow on Sunday.