AGONAsport World Cup Daily Recap, The Semi-finals: France And Croatia Book Final Spots

AGONAsport World Cup Daily Recap, The Semi-finals: France And Croatia Book Final Spots

France and Croatia meet on Sunday to decide the winner of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The two sides came through close semi-finals to book their tickets to the final in Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium. France defeated Belgium on Tuesday 1-0 thanks to a Samuel Umtiti goal while Croatia came from behind to win against England 2-1 in extra-time.

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France v Belgium 1-0

A Samuel Umtiti header just after halftime saw France defeat Belgium and advance to the World Cup final for the third time in the nation’s history. It was an absorbing game in Saint Petersburg which began with Belgium on top for most of the first half. Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne looked lively and France had to endure some nervy moments. France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was in inspiring form and produced one of the saves of the tournament when he dove at full stretch to tip away Toby Alderweireld’s shot on 22 minutes. Hazard’s cut inside to fire towards goal was then just headed away by Raphael Varane.

France finished the first half stronger and created their own dangerous chances with Olivier Giroud’s work-rate, Kylian M’bappe’s explosive pace and the energy of Antoine Griezmann. Six minutes after the break, France went ahead as Umtiti met Griezmann’s corner with a glancing header past Thibaut Courtois in the Belgian goal.

France proceeded to sit back even further due to their advantage and Belgium found difficulty in breaking down a disciplined and well-drilled French side. Hazard and de Bruyne tried to dribble and pass through the wall of blue shirts, but ultimately to no avail. France had chances to score late on with their counter-attacks, but some superb recovery defending and goalkeeping denied them the chance to increase their lead. Still, they didn’t need another goal as they professionally close out the match and booked their ticket to another World Cup final. 

England v Croatia 1-2

Mario Mandzukic scored in the 109th minute to give Croatia a 2-1 win over England and send the side to their first-ever World Cup final. In a dramatic match in Moscow, England took the lead after just five minutes when Kieran Trippier’s precise free-kick from outside the box flew past Danijel Subasic.

England were the better side for the entirety of the first half, but could not add to their advantage. Croatia turned the tables in the second half and after a bright period equalized after 68 minutes with Ivan Perisic turning in Sime Vrsaljko’s cross from close range.

The match headed to extra-time and Croatia were still on top. After having hit the post in regulation through Perisic, they hit the back of the net when Mandzukic reacted quickest to a loose ball in the box. England tried to no avail to find the elusive tying goal and Croatia advanced to Sunday’s showpiece. 

Kieran Trippier’s free-kick was a fine effort and just edges out Ivan Perisic’s goal in the same match.


Umtiti header sees France past Belgium
France in controlled, professional display against quality Belgium side
Perisic and Mandzukic goals see Croatia through
Englance close, but Croatia do enough to progress
France and Croatia set to play World Cup final on Sunday 


Two matches remain in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The 3rd place match takes place on Saturday as Belgium and England face off. Then it’s the match the world will be watching on Sunday from the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow as France and Croatia meet to contest the World Cup Final. 

by George Tsitsonis
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