France reach World Cup final after beating Belgium 1-0

France's defender Samuel Umtiti celebrates after scoring a goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup semifinal football match between France and Belgium. (AFP/Jewel SAMAD)
Updated 11 July 2018
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France reach World Cup final after beating Belgium 1-0

  • France are back in the World Cup final for the first time since Zinedine Zidane's headbutt in 2006
  • Twelve years after one of football's most infamous moments, Samuel Umtiti used his head to score from a corner kick in the 51st minute

SAINT PETERSBURG: France are back in the World Cup final for the first time since Zinedine Zidane's headbutt in 2006.
Twelve years after one of football's most infamous moments, Samuel Umtiti used his head to score from a corner kick in the 51st minute and earn France a 1-0 victory over Belgium on Tuesday in the first of the all-European semifinals.
The French players danced on the field after the final whistle and shook the hand of Thierry Henry, who helped Les Bleus win the World Cup in 1998 and is now Belgium's assistant coach.
France will face either Croatia or England in the final on Sunday in Moscow. Those two teams play in the other semifinal match on Wednesday, also in Moscow.
France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris produced a great save in each half, denying the potent Belgian attack of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku the chance to advance the country to their first major final. Belgium reached the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup and the European Championship in 2016 but have yet to fulfil the country's lofty expectations.
The world now gets to see France's luxury squad, collectively valued in excess of $1 billion and headlined by teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, in another major final.
Two years ago at home, the French surprisingly lost to Portugal 1-0 in the Euro 2016 final.

In 2006, they were beaten in a penalty shootout by Italy in a World Cup final that was overshadowed by Zidane headbutting opposing player Marco Materazzi in the chest in extra time. Zidane was sent off in what was his final match.
In a tournament dominated by goals from set pieces, France took the lead from a corner. Antoine Griezmann curled in the ball from the right and Umtiti got in front of tall Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini to knock in his header at the near post.
Up in the corporate seats, French President Emmanuel Macron reacted to the goal by shaking the hand of King Philippe of Belgium as FIFA president Gianni Infantino watched on between them.
The goal capped an impressive display by Umtiti, who helped to shut out the most productive attack in the World Cup with 14 goals, and meant three defenders have now scored on France's route to the final. Benjamin Pavard and Raphael Varane scored in previous matches.
In search of the equalizer, Belgium repeatedly sent over crosses from both wings but Umtiti and Varane, both center backs, used their bodies cleverly to hold off Fellaini and Lukaku.
France coach Didier Deschamps has faced some criticism for being too pragmatic and functional despite having so many stars in his squad, but the organization of the team was superb and Belgium were largely restricted to only minor chances that were kept out by the flying Lloris.
Deschamps now has the chance to become the third person to win the World Cup as a player and a coach, after Germany great Franz Beckenbauer and Brazil's Mario Zagallo. As France captain, Deschamps won football's most prized trophy in 1998.


Francesco Molinari sees off Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods to win maiden major at the Open

Updated 22 July 2018
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Francesco Molinari sees off Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods to win maiden major at the Open

  • At the age of 35, he becomes the first Italian ever to win a Major
  • Molinari had started the day three shots behind a trio of overnight leaders in Schauffele, Kisner and Spieth

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland: Italy’s Francesco Molinari emerged from the pack on a thrilling final day at Carnoustie to win the British Open on Sunday, seeing off the challenges of reigning champion Jordan Spieth and a revived Tiger Woods to win the first major of his career.
At the age of 35, he becomes the first Italian ever to win a Major, after keeping his cool in remarkable fashion when almost all around him seemed to be losing theirs on a windy afternoon.
A two-under-par round of 69 on the Scottish links allowed him to finish on eight-under, two shots clear of the quartet of Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner.
Molinari had started the day three shots behind a trio of overnight leaders in Schauffele, Kisner and Spieth, who were all nine under par when they teed off.
The latter had been hoping to become the first player since Padraig Harrington a decade ago to retain the Claret Jug, but he faded with a final-round 76 to finish on four under par.
Meanwhile Woods, who was playing with Molinari, was in the outright lead at one point on Sunday but ended with a 71 to finish in a tie for sixth with England’s Eddie Pepperell and Kevin Chappell of the United States.